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random11
2007-04-27, 02:01 AM
The last several pages of OOTS exposed very common problems in D&D:

1) Leveling up turns you stronger in a ridicules rate. A medium leveled hero can be in the middle of a battle zone filled with hobgoblins without even a chalange, and certainly without a real threat to him.

2) HP goes up too fast. Like in Roy's case, taking an arrow for another friend is not heroic at all. Traps need to be extremely complex to cause real damage or to offer a threat.

3) It's hard to take death seriously if there are so many ways to bring someone back.


I know that mostly because of these reasons I moved from D&D to Gurps many years ago, but I'm wondering how D&D players handle these problems, and if they are even considered as problems.

Beleriphon
2007-04-27, 02:04 AM
The last several pages of OOTS exposed very common problems in D&D:

1) Leveling up turns you stronger in a ridicules rate. A medium leveled hero can be in the middle of a battle zone filled with hobgoblins without even a chalange, and certainly without a real threat to him.

2) HP goes up too fast. Like in Roy's case, taking an arrow for another friend is not heroic at all. Traps need to be extremely complex to cause real damage or to offer a threat.

3) It's hard to take death seriously if there are so many ways to bring someone back.


I know that mostly because of these reasons I moved from D&D to Gurps many years ago, but I'm wondering how D&D players handle these problems, and if they are even considered as problems.

They aren't problems, they're genre conventions. Its like playing in a superheroes game and picking up a building. Its hideously unrealistic but sytlistically fits with the genre the game is portraying.

TheOOB
2007-04-27, 02:15 AM
As far as taking death seriously, it's only easy to bring back PCs, the truth is that the vast majority of souls won't ever come back, even if the appropriate raise dead spell is cast upon them. Be it a good or evil place, most souls find where they belong in the afterlife, and thus are not willing to come back, PCs are usually always willing to come back, as the player gets to choose if they are willing.

Takamari
2007-04-27, 02:25 AM
Remember that those spells are higher level, so it can become a problem to get a party member raised. I use that tactic as a DM. There are 10,000 clerics in the world. 8000 of them are lvl 5 or below, 1000 of them are between 6 and 8, 900 are between 9 and 12, 100 of them are over level 12. Of that 100, maybe 5 are 15th level or higher. For example.

Bassetking
2007-04-27, 02:26 AM
1) All it takes is one Hobgob with character levels to ruin your day; Make those levels caster levels, and give 'em the still and silent spell feats, and you've got one caster in a field of identical bodies. Good luck trying to pick out the one laying the hurt onto you.

2)Too fast, Mmm? True, Roy is rolling higher HD than Elan, Hailey, or V, But he's the "Tank" portion of the "Tank and Spank" equation. Once HD begin to become a problem, you should start to see other effects begin to take hold. ala: Save vs. Death/Suck

3)Sure, there's plenty of ways to bring someone back...

If you've got the Diamonds, time, wealth, connections, and, most importantly, the BODY.

Disentigrate, Fires, Digestion; All means and methods of preventing your intrepid adventurerers from retrieving and ressurecting your fallen friend.

Yechezkiel
2007-04-27, 02:28 AM
1) Depends on the class.

2) Higher CR encounters bring more save or die spells/abilities to kill your players and most of the DMGuide traps are ridiculous, you have to take another look at things like gravity trap and poisons.

3) This, and the above two points you bring up are valid, but it all comes down to the GM. Are diamonds as easy to come in your world? Making material components more realistic is a great way to tone down the casters and coming back to life. Resurrection might not even be widely known to most adventurers till high levels.

I love DnD and playing in gritty life or death campaigns so that's why I defend it... at first glance most don't realize there is a difficulty setting on this game.

Yechezkiel
2007-04-27, 02:31 AM
p.s. Bassetking was looking over my shoulder during this exam.

nagora
2007-04-27, 02:33 AM
All of the problems you listed are problems with your GM. I took ten real-world years of play to reach Roy's level as a 1st Ed fighter. Is that "too fast"?

And coming back from the dead is as easy as a GM makes it too.

random11
2007-04-27, 03:21 AM
Beleriphon:

They aren't problems, they're genre conventions. Its like playing in a superheroes game and picking up a building. Its hideously unrealistic but sytlistically fits with the genre the game is portraying.

Can't argue with that.
I guess I'm closer to the annoying realism type of player, but without doubt it's a good system for a more cinematic campaign.

------

To all the people that stated it's not that easy to raise the dead because of level and material requirements, most teams I know have at least one cleric in their group, so the spell itself is not that hard to aquire or find.
As for the materials, they are sure expensive and rare, but not that rare compared to what a group in these levels can find, and not expensive compared to the avarage gold a group on that level can get.
Both money and diamonds can be a just minor inconvenience in most campaigns.



Bassetking:

Disentigrate, Fires, Digestion; All means and methods of preventing your intrepid adventurerers from retrieving and ressurecting your fallen friend.

Of course there are ways, but the point is that you have to find a specific type of death for it to be critical.
The major disadvantage is that there a seperation between "death" and "big death".


Bassetking:

1) All it takes is one Hobgob with character levels to ruin your day; Make those levels caster levels, and give 'em the still and silent spell feats, and you've got one caster in a field of identical bodies. Good luck trying to pick out the one laying the hurt onto you.

2)Too fast, Mmm? True, Roy is rolling higher HD than Elan, Hailey, or V, But he's the "Tank" portion of the "Tank and Spank" equation. Once HD begin to become a problem, you should start to see other effects begin to take hold. ala: Save vs. Death/Suck

I consider this part of the problem.
The highr level you are, the things that were deadly for you are no longer a threat and you have to scale your enemy to the same speed.
Take random encounters as an example, a level 1 group will face kobolds, a level 2 will face hobgoblins and on level 8 suddenly the same forest will be filled with chimeras and uber-goblins with spellcasting abilities.

If I compare this to a more realistic system like Gurps, as you "level up" there, your chances to evade and hit are greatly improved, but sbeing orrounded by low level goblins is still a threat because you won't be able to stand more then 2-3 hits from a sword.




nagora:

All of the problems you listed are problems with your GM. I took ten real-world years of play to reach Roy's level as a 1st Ed fighter. Is that "too fast"?

But how long did it take for you to completely ignore threats like kobolds or goblins?

Beleriphon
2007-04-27, 04:36 AM
Can't argue with that.
I guess I'm closer to the annoying realism type of player, but without doubt it's a good system for a more cinematic campaign.


It is that.



To all the people that stated it's not that easy to raise the dead because of level and material requirements, most teams I know have at least one cleric in their group, so the spell itself is not that hard to aquire or find.
As for the materials, they are sure expensive and rare, but not that rare compared to what a group in these levels can find, and not expensive compared to the avarage gold a group on that level can get.
Both money and diamonds can be a just minor inconvenience in most campaigns.


The way I look at is by the time a party can cast the resurrection spells, or hell pay for them, the players have been playing long enough that if one of them dies they have an option to keep using that character. Why invest all that time and effort if if you're the only guy that doesn't get to keep his character?



I consider this part of the problem.
The highr level you are, the things that were deadly for you are no longer a threat and you have to scale your enemy to the same speed.
Take random encounters as an example, a level 1 group will face kobolds, a level 2 will face hobgoblins and on level 8 suddenly the same forest will be filled with chimeras and uber-goblins with spellcasting abilities.

If I compare this to a more realistic system like Gurps, as you "level up" there, your chances to evade and hit are greatly improved, but sbeing orrounded by low level goblins is still a threat because you won't be able to stand more then 2-3 hits from a sword.


That not terribly heroic now is it. I'm a 50 billionth level warrior god and a lowly group of goblins got me. Keep in mind that you're playing Conan the Barbarian, not Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The other important point is that by the time you're treating goblins as anything but fodder the genre conventions posit that you should be fighting something other than goblins anyways. Like their boss the lich. now instead of normal goblins, because dammit you've made the lich mad, you get to fight 12th level goblin vampire monks.

If you think of the whole idea from a story perspective it works as well. You aren't fighting uber goblins in the Goblin Woods because you already killed all the goblins ten levels ago. So some beholders moved in to the woods. Or you've left the Goblin Woods and head to the Chimera Mountains in search of greater adventure.

Tengu
2007-04-27, 04:37 AM
The biggest problem with DND is that, with a very slow combat mechanic, casters pwning melee, dependancy on a lot of magical items at higher levels, few combat options (once again, for melee-ers), ridiculous differences between characters at different levels (level 2 character is almost twice as strong as level 1 character) et cetera, it does an awful job at representing a heroic high-fantasy game. ToB and PHB2 fix some of those problems, but not all of them.
The second biggest problem is that due to the popularity of DND, there are too many people who cannot imagine a non-d20 based RPG.

And yeah, it's annoying how easy is it to ressurect someone at medium and higher levels. What's that, Dragonball, where death is only a temporary inconvenience? In my Final Fantasy RPG you can ressurect people with Life spells and Phoenix Downs only if they have died very recently (a matter of minutes rather than hours), and only if the body is in one piece and more or less intact - their usage is to prevent accidents due to bad luck/strategy.

Starsinger
2007-04-27, 04:50 AM
Of the things that you mentioned, the only one that really bothers me is resurrection spells. But that's because one of my player's constantly plays paladins. And it's hard to make a paladin's sacrifice mean something, when Jozen can just walk down there and bring him back... I mean if the Paladin accepts resurrection, his sacrifice is diminished in meaning. And if he declines, the he looks like a jerk, an expensive jerk.

But the rest don't bother me so much... especially not immunity to goblins.

Charity
2007-04-27, 04:52 AM
I agree combat is slow, though it is generally down to indecision on the players part, and I have seen that occur in even very simple mechanic games.

In real terms what does the final death of a character cost you?
Seriously, If my character dies,

Final death - the party keep all his kit that they want, flogs the rest, I roll up a character who starts with all his own new stuff. Net result - I don't get to play the character I was attached to, but I can make a very similar one and the party is up to the tune of 1 x my WBL guideline.
Temporary death - the party have to give my kit back and pay for the material componant at bare minimum to get me back. Net result - the party are down a bit of gold.

Why is final death preferable? It may stretch credability a bit, but name an RPG that doesn't somewhere down the line.
*has played GURPS along with many other systems*

The Prince of Cats
2007-04-27, 05:11 AM
1) Leveling up turns you stronger in a ridicules rate. A medium leveled hero can be in the middle of a battle zone filled with hobgoblins without even a chalange, and certainly without a real threat to him.
Mathematics to the rescue...

A hobgoblin weighs perhaps 165lbs. (medium humanoid, tending toward fighter-class; [1 (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/hobgoblin.htm)] so use human fighter table[2 (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/description.htm#heightAndWeight)])

With 18 strength, a fighter has a maximum load of 300lbs. [3 (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/carryingCapacity.htm)] This means that they can lift 600lbs off the ground. This is just under four hobgoblins...

So, four hobgoblins could almost certainly pin a prone or supine fighter with 18 strength. All you need is one good trip attack and then pile on him. At this point, we can safely assume that our fighter is helpless. [4 (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/combat/combatModifiers.htm#helplessDefenders)] One hobgoblin on each arm, one on his legs and one on his lower back.

Coup de Grace... I mean, the one on his back has a perfect shot. Each round, one more critical hit of damage and one more fortitude save not to just die...

Dhavaer
2007-04-27, 06:25 AM
Mathematics to the rescue...

A hobgoblin weighs perhaps 165lbs. (medium humanoid, tending toward fighter-class; [1 (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/hobgoblin.htm)] so use human fighter table[2 (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/description.htm#heightAndWeight)])

With 18 strength, a fighter has a maximum load of 300lbs. [3 (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/carryingCapacity.htm)] This means that they can lift 600lbs off the ground. This is just under four hobgoblins...

So, four hobgoblins could almost certainly pin a prone or supine fighter with 18 strength. All you need is one good trip attack and then pile on him. At this point, we can safely assume that our fighter is helpless. [4 (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/combat/combatModifiers.htm#helplessDefenders)] One hobgoblin on each arm, one on his legs and one on his lower back.

Coup de Grace... I mean, the one on his back has a perfect shot. Each round, one more critical hit of damage and one more fortitude save not to just die...

That would be resolved as a grapple, and probably eventually result in the fighter crushing the hobgoblins pulpy, unless it's a Dex build.

Jaltum
2007-04-27, 06:38 AM
I don't think resurrection magic, even relatively common resurrection magic, has to be the death (so to speak) of realism.

If we look at the most recent OotS comic (444)--Haley and Durkon seem to be feeling some pretty authentic grief there, even though the possibility to resurrect Roy is still on the table. Why? I'd say it's because there's a good chance they won't be able to recover the body and res it, especially if they... you know, lose.

Someone on these boards compared it to a friend going into a deep coma, where you don't know if they'll ever come out, and if they do they may be irrevocably changed when they wake up. I think you can compare it to the modern world. We can cure lots and lots of diseases and injuries, ones that would have been fatal even a short time ago--if everything goes right, and we have access in time, and we can afford it. That doesn't make it any less traumatic when it really does happen.

I don't think a paladin's sacrifice is cheapened by the potential of resurrection any more than a cop's sacrifice is cheapened because maybe we can save his life on the operating table after he takes a bullet for some civilians. But when he gets nailed by a disintegrate and the party slowly realizes they don't have the resources to save him this time--yes, that's more dramatic. So hang your drama off that hook.

Obviously, if you want a more lethal system, that's personal preference, but I don't think D&D is actually necessarily broken.

Saph
2007-04-27, 06:45 AM
1) Leveling up turns you stronger in a ridicules rate. A medium leveled hero can be in the middle of a battle zone filled with hobgoblins without even a chalange, and certainly without a real threat to him.

Play at lower levels. As you'll see if you read that Calibration article, at levels 1-5 D&D is pretty realistic, and 200 hobgoblins are not only a challenge, they're likely death.


2) HP goes up too fast. Like in Roy's case, taking an arrow for another friend is not heroic at all. Traps need to be extremely complex to cause real damage or to offer a threat.

Play at lower levels, or use more lethal traps. BTW, are you reading the same DMG that I am? How the hell is a Wail of the Banshee trap not considered a threat? It's DC 23 to save against, affects up to 17 targets, and is only CR 10. Just because most DMs are too soft-hearted to use those traps doesn't mean they don't exist.


3) It's hard to take death seriously if there are so many ways to bring someone back.

Play at lower levels. The campaign I'm just about to start has almost no spellcasters higher than levels 6-7. Good luck getting a raise dead there.


I know that mostly because of these reasons I moved from D&D to Gurps many years ago, but I'm wondering how D&D players handle these problems, and if they are even considered as problems.

They're not problems, they're features.

D&D is a system for high-fantasy, high-magic, heroic, epic battles, where your characters grow to superhuman levels of power until they're virtual demigods. If you want a low-magic, gritty, lethal setting, then you're right, you should be playing another system.

- Saph

nagora
2007-04-27, 08:25 AM
To all the people that stated it's not that easy to raise the dead because of level and material requirements, most teams I know have at least one cleric in their group, so the spell itself is not that hard to aquire or find.

But the GOD has to agree. What argument are you going to make that Ted, the 7th level thief is more deserving of divinely-granted life than any number of clergy who may have fallen down the stairs or whatever this week? Divine intervention on something so important as the return of life needs to have some rational before a God will give it - even if evil. The D&D paradigm of deities is based on them having limits to their power and they won't and can't simply raise everyone who's done them a good turn now and then, let alone people who are just friends of a worshipper, even friends of a cleric. So, again, if you find it too easy to raise the dead then you have a problem with the GM.



But how long did it take for you to completely ignore threats like kobolds or goblins?

About level 9 or so even a war band of 300-400 are no real threat to a party of four or more PCs who have ranged magic attacks.

But, I can tell you from experience that two 12th level fighters meeting that same force quickly find that 350 javelins are a problem regardless of the fact that they're being hurled by kobolds. Things may have changed in 3rd edition, though.

Ulzgoroth
2007-04-27, 08:40 AM
But the GOD has to agree. What argument are you going to make that Ted, the 7th level thief is more deserving of divinely-granted life than any number of clergy who may have fallen down the stairs or whatever this week? Divine intervention on something so important as the return of life needs to have some rational before a God will give it - even if evil. The D&D paradigm of deities is based on them having limits to their power and they won't and can't simply raise everyone who's done them a good turn now and then, let alone people who are just friends of a worshipper, even friends of a cleric. So, again, if you find it too easy to raise the dead then you have a problem with the GM.
While you could decide to run things this way, I'm not aware of anything in any book that suggests this. Spells to revive the dead aren't labeled as special and different from any other divine spell.

But, I can tell you from experience that two 12th level fighters meeting that same force quickly find that 350 javelins are a problem regardless of the fact that they're being hurled by kobolds. Things may have changed in 3rd edition, though.
At worst, one in 20 hits on average. 17.5 hits might sting a bit, and the javelins could be poisoned, which means no matter what your saves you take about one dose per round unless you've got that feat that removes auto-failed fort. saves on a natural 1. Probably enough to give you a bad day.

Gamebird
2007-04-27, 09:04 AM
They're really bad problems to me too. And all resolved by advancing people very slowly in levels. Just cut their xp by 1/5 or 1/10 and you're good to go.

Rock Roller
2007-04-27, 09:05 AM
But the GOD has to agree. What argument are you going to make that Ted, the 7th level thief is more deserving of divinely-granted life than any number of clergy who may have fallen down the stairs or whatever this week? Divine intervention on something so important as the return of life needs to have some rational before a God will give it - even if evil. The D&D paradigm of deities is based on them having limits to their power and they won't and can't simply raise everyone who's done them a good turn now and then, let alone people who are just friends of a worshipper, even friends of a cleric. So, again, if you find it too easy to raise the dead then you have a problem with the GM.


This is actually my big problem with D&D. It all too often pits the GM against the players in a contest of "who's really in charge?" If you, as the GM, prevent my cleric from raising his companion because they are a different alignment/worship a different god/whatever, then I'll feel cheated. I've worked to get myself to a level where I have the ability to raise dead, and you're essentially saying that you'll only let me use it when you want to. Raise dead is a 5th level spell. If you're telling the cleric he has to clear his choice of who to cast it on with his god, then how is that in any way fair to him when the wizard tosses feeblemind at whoever he wants?

It's the same as me saying, "Hey, I wanna play a combative rogue who is master of the sneak-attack!" And then you says, "Oh yeah, we'll, you have to fight a horde of undead!" That stinks. It breaks the first rule I have of gaming: if it's no fun, it's broken. Look critically at the classes and see how many of them have abilities that only come into play when the GM wants. Just off the top of my head...

Ranger Favored Enemy - If I pick goblins, and then I'm fighting kobolds all campaign, I'm hosed.
Fighter weapons specialization - If I pick, say, battle axes, and the GM keeps tossing long swords my way, I'm hosed.
Any divine spell - If I have to have my god's permission before I can cast it.
Paladin's mounts - They're not so useful on a dungeon crawl
Sneak Attack - If my GM has planned a game about undead, oozes, plant creatures or constructs, my rogue went from a useful combat figure to worthless.
Bardic Knowledge - Unless my GM plans on tossing in puzzles that this can solve in one way or another, I'm not likely to get any mileage out of this one.

The only classes that can pretty much be prepared to use their abilities against whatever the GM comes up with are the arcane casters. Coincidentally, what are the classes that are most often called overpowered?

Saph
2007-04-27, 09:21 AM
This is actually my big problem with D&D. It all too often pits the GM against the players in a contest of "who's really in charge?"

No more than any other RPG, really, and the extensive rules system means that that DM has less power than most other systems I play.


The only classes that can pretty much be prepared to use their abilities against whatever the GM comes up with are the arcane casters. Coincidentally, what are the classes that are most often called overpowered?

Clerics and druids?

Your theory needs a bit of work. :P

- Saph

Logos7
2007-04-27, 09:23 AM
not getting the chance to use your abilities to the fullest is not the same as getting hosed.

If you pick kobold's as your favoured enemy, and we run into goblin's it's not like your favoured enemy goes away. Chances are various people in the group specialized in various things and at most one of them get the chance to use their specialization at any time. That's dnd not hosing.

if it is no fun, perhaps your broken. DnD is a group effort and if after the first bit or so your still tryingi to make your kobold skewerer or rouge combat master when the game is obviously not going that way, well who's Fault is that. This is a complaint for what the first session ? If the enchantermage runs into undead or the blastermage into those with elemental resistance against the element he favours it would appear to be boned too.

Why the whole group appears to be boned almost the entire time they play dnd as the dm keeps throwing unexpected things at them, laughably in the name of plot but we all really know what the dm is doing, he's boning hiis players!.

Chalk another one up to Obseration Bias. Rant Follows

I find that generally the whole DnD is too adverserial with the DM tends to run into the fact the the DM being the one who interpret's the rules mostly has to be adversial ( The Rules can't let you do everything all the time or they wouldn't be rules ) and people confuse adversial with ' Out to get me ' because they tend not to notice 9/10 when the dm is doing the same to other players and 10/10 when he's making his campeign within the confines of those very same rules ( I'm not saying there are no problem DM's out there i'm saying 9/10's of "Dnd is too adversial with the Dm" complaints boil down to about the same consistancy as "Level's destroy RP" and "Dnd's unrealistic" and "DnD is the spawn of satan" trying to pass off a matter of taste as an universal ( or damned close) experiacne always seemed kinda like a bad complaint, espeically when alot of other RPG's that people always want to laude , Indie or not have the exact same scenario. ( Dm's Level's Satan Worshiping, etc)

Telonius
2007-04-27, 09:35 AM
The last several pages of OOTS exposed very common problems in D&D:

1) Leveling up turns you stronger in a ridicules rate. A medium leveled hero can be in the middle of a battle zone filled with hobgoblins without even a chalange, and certainly without a real threat to him.


Let's say there's 400 hobgoblins in the battle zone. A medium-level fighter will take out, at most, eight of them per round if he hits all of them. But let's give the goblins the benefit of the doubt and say they beat him at initiative. First round, best case scenario, he takes an average of 20 hits. Strength of 13 for the hobbos according to the monster manual, so d6+1 per hit. And one confirms critical, for an extra 4.5 damage average. Around 94 points of damage, average, not including any bonuses. Typical fighter has maybe ... 14 Con? 16? Let's call it 16, for a +3 bonus. Average d10 roll is 5.5. Total 5.5+3=8.5 hp per level, *9 levels, plus max HP first level. so a standard level 10 fighter has about 89 hit points, on average. So, on his first action, an average Fighter is at -5 hit points.

If he goes first, he doesn't fare all that much better. If he's completely surrounded, he can take out eight of them if he has Great Cleave, to a maximum of 20 if he has a Spiked Chain. (He'll only hit 19, since he'll roll a one once on average, but let's give him an extra one anyway since it's an even number). That means the goblins only have 380 to attack with; so only 19 hits, about 85 damage. (Average for a confirmed critical is slightly less than one). If the fighter goes first, he has 4 hit points left by the end of the round, on average.

The example is a little silly - if it's really a battle zone, how would they all know to attack one single threat at once, etc. - but I think it does illustrate just how much a lot of little threats can add up to a single big threat.

PinkysBrain
2007-04-27, 09:44 AM
3) It's hard to take death seriously if there are so many ways to bring someone back.What are the alternatives?

Remove risk of death mostly from the game. (Please don't bring up the whole "but when the players do something stupid I kill them" thing ... this is about risk for players who play the game smart, either there is real risk of death for them or there isn't, if there is a real risk then the fact that you play with dice will result in character deaths ... and the level of risk will determine the frequency.)

Force everyone to play with a stack of character sheet. A decent alternative, but not without it's own problems of about the same magnitude as raising the dead (hard to get attached to a set of characters if they keep changing). Since GURPS tend to be rather lethal I guess this is your preferred option.

Invent some alternative mechanic which causes a similarly harsh penalty (level loss IS a harsh penalty) which is unrelated to death. The easiest would be to turn the lethality of the game down and make it mostly about hit points, and invent some way to make retreat easy and recuperation of hitpoints hard. This alternative to me seems very hard to pull off well without breaking realism further than simply allowing raise dead (playing Samurai warriors on a console at the moment, and the opponents just keep limping away after you beat them ... which just makes no sense at all).

Got any better alternatives for someone who wants some rule based Gaming in his RPG? (You can of course abandon rule based gaming entirely and just go for drama ... but, meh. Not for me.)

Human Paragon 3
2007-04-27, 09:53 AM
You can always have fun playing the game, but it is the DM's responsibility to make sure the players do have fun. They are designing an adventure that will be enjoyable for everyone.


One part of that is letting players actually use their class abillities that they have worked hard to earn.

Another part of that is making it challenging, either by making enemies that can only be beaten by using all your powers to their fullest or by making enemies that subvert your abillities so you have to fight creatively to beat them.

So yeah, as the DM, you know what your players will like and what they won't (or at least they should). Put a rogue up against undead and he might feel cheated, but give him some other thing to do in the encounter- maybe there's a device he can disable or a magic item he can use if he has ranks in that. Or maybe he's trying to unlock the massive crypt doors that trap the PCs in with the horde of Mummies. Who knows?

Telonius
2007-04-27, 09:54 AM
How is this a disadvantage?

What are the alternatives?

Remove risk from the game. (Please don't bring up the whole "but when the players do something stupid I kill them" thing ... this is about risk for players who play the game smart, either there is real risk for them or there isn't.)

Force everyone to play with a stack of character sheet. A decent alternative, but not without it's own problems of about the same magnitude as raising the dead because (hard to get attached to a set of characters if they keep changing). Since GURPS tend to be rather lethal I guess this is your preferred option.

Invent some alternative mechanic which causes a similarly harsh penalty (level loss IS a harsh penalty) which is unrelated to death. This alternative is almost impossible to pull of without breaking realism further than simply allowing raise dead ... so again not a good alternative either.

Got any better alternatives for someone who wants some rule based Gaming in his RPG? (You can of course abandon rule based gaming entirely and just go for drama ... but, meh. Not for me.)

You bring up an extremely good point. If the power gained with Level Gain is a big problem, the power lost from Level Loss from dying is an equally big problem. Basically, if you accept the premise of #1 as correct, then #3 has just answered itself, because level loss is a serious matter.

For #2, dealing damage is not the way to "win D&D." This is why the most optimized Wizards don't focus on damage-dealing spells. They focus on battlefield control, save-or-die, save-or-suck, and other strategic spells (see Logic Ninja's "Being Batman (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19085)" thread for more information on this). The real threats aren't the ones that deal damage directly.

Human Paragon 3
2007-04-27, 09:59 AM
If he goes first, he doesn't fare all that much better. If he's completely surrounded, he can take out eight of them if he has Great Cleave, to a maximum of 20 if he has a Spiked Chain. (He'll only hit 19, since he'll roll a one once on average, but let's give him an extra one anyway since it's an even number). That means the goblins only have 380 to attack with; so only 19 hits, about 85 damage. (Average for a confirmed critical is slightly less than one). If the fighter goes first, he has 4 hit points left by the end of the round, on average.


You are forgetting that only 9 hobgoblins can attack a fighter in a round unless they specifically form up with ranged weapon users behind the meleers, in which case the ranged users still have a -4 to their attacks because of their formation. If 9 hobgoblins attack the fighter, NONE of them might hit, especially if he's armored in such a way that they need a natural 20 to hit. Then we're talking 1 hit every two rounds of combat.

Not to mention that this combat situation will be astoundingly dull and time consuming.

PinkysBrain
2007-04-27, 10:05 AM
They'd be mad to go into melee, except if they are trying to trip him.

As for the tediousness of ranged combat, there are rules around which let you turn an arrow volley into an area attack which would work nicely.

Tengu
2007-04-27, 10:24 AM
What are the alternatives?

Remove risk of death mostly from the game. (Please don't bring up the whole "but when the players do something stupid I kill them" thing ... this is about risk for players who play the game smart, either there is real risk of death for them or there isn't, if there is a real risk then the fact that you play with dice will result in character deaths ... and the level of risk will determine the frequency.)

Force everyone to play with a stack of character sheet. A decent alternative, but not without it's own problems of about the same magnitude as raising the dead (hard to get attached to a set of characters if they keep changing). Since GURPS tend to be rather lethal I guess this is your preferred option.

Invent some alternative mechanic which causes a similarly harsh penalty (level loss IS a harsh penalty) which is unrelated to death. The easiest would be to turn the lethality of the game down and make it mostly about hit points, and invent some way to make retreat easy and recuperation of hitpoints hard. This alternative to me seems very hard to pull off well without breaking realism further than simply allowing raise dead (playing Samurai warriors on a console at the moment, and the opponents just keep limping away after you beat them ... which just makes no sense at all).

Got any better alternatives for someone who wants some rule based Gaming in his RPG? (You can of course abandon rule based gaming entirely and just go for drama ... but, meh. Not for me.)
I'll answer by quoting what I've written here previously:

In my Final Fantasy RPG you can ressurect people with Life spells and Phoenix Downs only if they have died very recently (a matter of minutes rather than hours), and only if the body is in one piece and more or less intact - their usage is to prevent accidents due to bad luck/strategy.
Apart from, well, dying, there is no penalty for death in my game - you cannot lose experience in it.

Alveanerle
2007-04-27, 10:37 AM
They'd be mad to go into melee, except if they are trying to trip him.

As for the tediousness of ranged combat, there are rules around which let you turn an arrow volley into an area attack which would work nicely.

Now that's interesting. Where one could find such rules?

Roderick_BR
2007-04-27, 11:09 AM
1) Others systems are more broken. In Gurps, for example, a starting character can be a better swordman than a experienced warrior, played for several sessions, because the point buy system allows it, for example. The level system is an attempt (albeit not perfect) to balance the game.

2) HP is high exacly to be heroic. If your 20 level character gets killed by a single arrow, it kind takes that "heroic" feeling.

3) I agree that some resurrection magic should be more high levels. But as people say, it's not that easy anyway.

Telonius
2007-04-27, 01:19 PM
You are forgetting that only 9 hobgoblins can attack a fighter in a round unless they specifically form up with ranged weapon users behind the meleers, in which case the ranged users still have a -4 to their attacks because of their formation. If 9 hobgoblins attack the fighter, NONE of them might hit, especially if he's armored in such a way that they need a natural 20 to hit. Then we're talking 1 hit every two rounds of combat.

Not to mention that this combat situation will be astoundingly dull and time consuming.

No, I'm not forgetting that. It's figured in, with all of the goblins attacking with their javelins (ranged weapons). My example assumes that the hobgoblins can only hit on a natural 20, so only 1/20 of the 380 ranged attackers actually hit. It's the best-case scenario for the fighter's defense stats, and worst-case for the hobgoblins' attack modifiers. If the Fighter's AC were low enough that a goblin could hit on a 19 or 20, double the average damage. If it's low enough that a 17 could hit it, triple the damage, and so on.

random11
2007-04-27, 02:12 PM
Play at lower levels. As you'll see if you read that Calibration article, at levels 1-5 D&D is pretty realistic, and 200 hobgoblins are not only a challenge, they're likely death.



Play at lower levels, or use more lethal traps. BTW, are you reading the same DMG that I am? How the hell is a Wail of the Banshee trap not considered a threat? It's DC 23 to save against, affects up to 17 targets, and is only CR 10. Just because most DMs are too soft-hearted to use those traps doesn't mean they don't exist.



Play at lower levels. The campaign I'm just about to start has almost no spellcasters higher than levels 6-7. Good luck getting a raise dead there.



They're not problems, they're features.

D&D is a system for high-fantasy, high-magic, heroic, epic battles, where your characters grow to superhuman levels of power until they're virtual demigods. If you want a low-magic, gritty, lethal setting, then you're right, you should be playing another system.

- Saph

The lack of balance is even more noticable at lower levels.
Even a single goblin is a threat for a level 1 hero.
But a level 5 hero can keep many goblins for a long time, asuming he can fight in a place that limits the number of attacks per round (corridor).

As for traps, take a single trap that deals an avarage of 8 HP.
It will kill all regular people, kill most level 1 heroes, severely injure most heroes on levels 2-3, but on level 5 it will be no more then an inconvenience that can be healed.

On systems like GURPS on the other hand, your limitation in HP makes the same trap just as deadly no matter how experienced you are, but at higher levels you get better chances noticing or evading it (providing you picked the right skills).

Human Paragon 3
2007-04-27, 02:13 PM
Scenario makes me want to shoot myself, no matter what the level of the fighter. I think when my guy gets surrounded by 400 CR1 monsters I'd ask to play something else or just give up rather than watch the DM roll 400 dice a round.

Telonius
2007-04-27, 02:16 PM
Scenario makes me want to shoot myself, no matter what the level of the fighter. I think when my guy gets surrounded by 400 CR1 monsters I'd ask to play something else or just give up rather than watch the DM roll 400 dice a round.

I would too. The OP thought that this situation would not be a problem for a mid-level character; but I think I've showed that it would definitely hurt, even under the most favorable conditions possible.

random11
2007-04-27, 02:21 PM
1) Others systems are more broken. In Gurps, for example, a starting character can be a better swordman than a experienced warrior, played for several sessions, because the point buy system allows it, for example. The level system is an attempt (albeit not perfect) to balance the game.

2) HP is high exacly to be heroic. If your 20 level character gets killed by a single arrow, it kind takes that "heroic" feeling.

3) I agree that some resurrection magic should be more high levels. But as people say, it's not that easy anyway.

1) That depends on two things: How many points you start with and how many points you ae limited for a single skill.
If you allow 75-100 points for a starting player, limit his starting attributes to 13-14 and place some limit on his skills, you get a fairly balanced hero with fair skills for a beginner and chances for greatness.

2) No doubt that D&D are rules for heroic-cinematic campaigns. I prefer realism, but I can see why others prefer this.
On Gurps, even an experienced skilled warrior will not act as a "meat shield" and charge 10 archers, he will have to use his brain and set of skills if he wants to survive.

Beleriphon
2007-04-27, 02:22 PM
The lack of balance is even more noticable at lower levels.
Even a single goblin is a threat for a level 1 hero.
But a level 5 hero can keep many goblins for a long time, asuming he can fight in a place that limits the number of attacks per round (corridor).


Which is exactly within the genre conventions that D&D is trying to emulate. If you take Aragorns stick him in a hall way and have him fight a bunch of orcs that can only approach two at time do you seriously think that would be a serious threat?



As for traps, take a single trap that deals an avarage of 8 HP.
It will kill all regular people, kill most level 1 heroes, severely injure most heroes on levels 2-3, but on level 5 it will be no more then an inconvenience that can be healed.
Which is exactly what it should be. Anything that presents a serious threat of death to a first level character, shouldn't present a serious threat of death of to a fifth level character. That dinky little arrow trap isn't that big a deal any more because our intrepid rogue is better able to handle avoiding serious injury from the arrows. A big rolling boulder trap on the other hand is more serious of a problem



On systems like GURPS on the other hand, your limitation in HP makes the same trap just as deadly no matter how experienced you are, but at higher levels you get better chances noticing or evading it (providing you picked the right skills).GURPS has its own horribly broken unbalanced issues to begin with. Non-drawback drawbacks being on of my beefs with that particular game.



On Gurps, even an experienced skilled warrior will not act as a "meat shield" and charge 10 archers, he will have to use his brain and set of skills if he wants to survive.

And in D&D you should be getting 10 arrows to the face from readied actions.

Even in GURPS if those archers have already acted for their combat turn our buddy the warrior pastes at least a few of them.

random11
2007-04-27, 02:32 PM
What are the alternatives?

Remove risk of death mostly from the game. (Please don't bring up the whole "but when the players do something stupid I kill them" thing ... this is about risk for players who play the game smart, either there is real risk of death for them or there isn't, if there is a real risk then the fact that you play with dice will result in character deaths ... and the level of risk will determine the frequency.)

Force everyone to play with a stack of character sheet. A decent alternative, but not without it's own problems of about the same magnitude as raising the dead (hard to get attached to a set of characters if they keep changing). Since GURPS tend to be rather lethal I guess this is your preferred option.

Invent some alternative mechanic which causes a similarly harsh penalty (level loss IS a harsh penalty) which is unrelated to death. The easiest would be to turn the lethality of the game down and make it mostly about hit points, and invent some way to make retreat easy and recuperation of hitpoints hard. This alternative to me seems very hard to pull off well without breaking realism further than simply allowing raise dead (playing Samurai warriors on a console at the moment, and the opponents just keep limping away after you beat them ... which just makes no sense at all).

Got any better alternatives for someone who wants some rule based Gaming in his RPG? (You can of course abandon rule based gaming entirely and just go for drama ... but, meh. Not for me.)

Other then using a different system or removing raise dead spells from the game, there are some alternatives.

For example, raising the dead binds the resurrected person to the god that raised him, until he repays a favor.
This can be any side quest as long as it won't give the characters any advantage (all items and gold found on the quest must be donated for this god).
It can also be any other type of sacrifice such as giving up a unique item the character owns, giving ALL his gold or anything else you can think of.
If the character breaks the rules while still being bound to the god, he will die. Any attampt to cheat will cause the same result.


Another option, limit the "raise dead" spells that they can only be used on holy ground of that god (tamples or anything else).
While the death will still not be final, the group will still be at a great loss of one hero until they can return to such a place, and the character wil lose all exp gained in the time he is "gone".
This will turn a sacrifice to something that will still be worth it, but only on extreme cases.

Jayabalard
2007-04-27, 02:34 PM
1) Others systems are more broken. In Gurps, for example, a starting character can be a better swordman than a experienced warrior, played for several sessions, because the point buy system allows it, for example. The level system is an attempt (albeit not perfect) to balance the game.How so? and even if it were the case, how is that broken?

For those who aren't familiar with the system, weapon skills are physicaly skills, and are based on DX (dexterity) and the amount of character points you put into it (the amount of time you have studied it)

A standard starting character, 18 years old can indeed dump 32 points into weapon skill (max points allowed in skills for starting characters = Age x2, or 36), if they bump their age to 20, then they can spend up to 40, which gets them a PH skill at DX + 5, or a PA skill at DX+6

They can then dump the remaining into DX (the ~100 more points if you take the full 40 disadvantages & 5 quirks) which will buy you up to 17 dex (in 3rd edition, I think they changed that for 4th) and still have a handful of points left over.

For all of that they get a fencing skill of 23 (Physical hard) or a broadsword skill of 24 (Physical Average)... which is a pretty amazing level of skill... but nothing that an experienced swordsman can't achieve who's going to have 50-150 more points to spend, and no cap on points spent on skills. To get that they have spent somewhere between 8000 and 16000* hours training just in swordsmanship , not to mention the amount of training needed to raise their DX to 17, which is around that of an Olympic gymnast/fencer. He has trained in nothing else, and has no other usable skills... not even hobbies for pretty much his entire life; in a medieval society, he can't read or write, and can't add numbers beyond what he can count on his fingers (and even then, he'll make mistakes).

He will understandably be a better swordsman than some well rounded people who have more experience.... but no more skilled than someone who has put in an equivalent amount of time training...

and... this is just my experience... he's nearly useless in a real campaign ... because the sort of people who are generally interested in playing gurps don't use it as a battle gaming system, they use it as a full out RPG.

I think in 4th edition it's easier to get a higher skill (skills cost less, but DX costs more), but then again it's also easier for the experienced swordsman to gain that skil tool.

*depends on the quality of their teacher, learning without a teacher with 24 weapon skill and 24 teaching skill would take twice as long

Justin_Bacon
2007-04-27, 02:46 PM
The last several pages of OOTS exposed very common problems in D&D:

1) Leveling up turns you stronger in a ridicules rate. A medium leveled hero can be in the middle of a battle zone filled with hobgoblins without even a chalange, and certainly without a real threat to him.

This is a feature, not a problem.

If you want to play in a game in which characters aren't mythological heroes of legendary prowess, D&D offers low-level play in the 1st to 5th level range. Slow the speed of XP acquisition and play your entire campaign in that range if that's the type of game you're looking for.

Complaining that mid-to-high level play in D&D involves mythological heroes of legendary prowess is like complaining that GURPS characters built on 500 points look like superheroes.


2) HP goes up too fast. Like in Roy's case, taking an arrow for another friend is not heroic at all. Traps need to be extremely complex to cause real damage or to offer a threat.

This isn't a problem of HP going up too fast, it's actually because magical healing is so readily available to the common adventurer: Wounds are certainly painful, but there's certainly a different reaction to injury when a cure light wounds spell is only moments away.

To take a couple examples from the real world: Even something as simple as professional football is affected. What type of depth chart do you really need when even the most serious injury can be instantaneously fixed by the team clerics and even the fatigue of playing can be wiped away with the use of a spell?

Or look at the much more serious example of open heart surgery. It remains a frightening and dangerous procedure which, even when successful, is followed by an incredibly painful period of recovery. But even assuming that magic can't replace the procedure entirely, recovery becomes simplistic: One cure serious wounds spell and it becomes a same-day operation.

So this isn't really a problem with the system, it's just a consequence of a high-magic setting (which is the standard D&D setting).


3) It's hard to take death seriously if there are so many ways to bring someone back.

True. Although it's important to remember that even the simple raise dead spell costs 5,250 gp and is, according to the PHB, "generally not available". This means that only the extraordinarily wealthy can afford to be brought back from the dead.

Of course, the mid-to-high level PCs are among the extraordinarily wealthy.

That being said, this is a setting element that doesn't fit with my personal campaign. So I have crafted some house rules that (a) make it more difficult to die in the first place; (b) make coming back from the dead more like being revived by a trauma surgeon in the E.R. than a literally resurrection; and (c) include a final point beyond which the spirit has left this world and will not (or cannot) return.

Taking a step back from all this, however, let's look at what your goals are:

1. You want a system which is more lethal so that even Hercules and Achilles can be felled by a common guy with a pitchfork.

2. You want to make character death permanent.

Well, unless your characters are happy with rolling up new characters every other session, there's really only one way to do that: Remove the epic feats and accomplishments from the game. You can't really call it DUNGEONS & DRAGONS any more, because you'll never actually face a dragon. Maybe we could call it DUNGEONS & GIANT IGUANAS.

All kidding aside: D&D offers you a range of power from the common and every day (1st level) to the demigod-like (20th level). The standard design is to allow characters to evolve relatively rapidly from common heroes to demigods, but it is extraordinarily simple to tweak that design (simply vary the starting level and the speed at which XP is acquired).

Justin Alexander
http://www.thealexandrian.net

Rock Roller
2007-04-27, 03:32 PM
For the record, I'm not saying that D&D sucks, or that I hate it or anything like that. I play it on a regular basis. It's one of the big 3 or 4 games in rotation at my group (the others being Shadowrun and Vampire/other world of darkness game). If I'm at a con, I'll probably hit at least one D&D game. It is to RPG's as pepperoni is to pizza toppings. It might not be your favorite, but everyplace has it, and everyone will eat it, so you'll go along with it and enjoy.

I'm just saying that the rules as written and the game as it seems to be commonly understood from my experience at cons and on-line tend to encourage players to try to find "optimum builds." This, in turn, tends to drive GM's to post questions like "My player has done X, what can I do to challenge him?" or "My player's wizard/cleric/druid build has broken my game. Help!" And it leads into a game of tit-for-tat. "You got teleport, so my enemy has dimensional anchor." Rings of mind shielding become de rigeur for villains because you're playing a paladin or a cleric or a sorcerer with detect thoughts. Fighters get monstrous hit points, so save or die spells with will saves become the popular option for enemy spell casters. And then, thanks to the rise of the crunchy splat books, legions of deepwoods snipers and Ur-Priests with a berjillion and one strange feats contend with monsters who have CR's that are questionable. There's a construct in one of the books that's basically a tank. It's a block of stone with 2 stone rollers, six arms I think, spell and damage resistance, and a plethora of spell-like abilities (including wall of force I think). It's name escapes me, but the CR for the beast is something like a CR 12. It's obscene. We've sat and tried to work out how to kill it, and the best we've come up with for a 12th level party of 4 is to disintegrate the ground under it and try to smash it from above, and it still killed 2 party members and ate up way over 1/5 of our resources.

I don't object to the high powered games. I really don't. I just get tired of seeing who can unbalance the seesaw first. Look at house-rules that people post. So many of them are efforts to stop this arms race between player's and DM's. It's annoying to have to keep saying, "You can't use feats, classes, spells or items that aren't in X books." That's what my big problem with D&D really is. Don't get me wrong. I've had great times playing it, and I'm sure I'll have great times again in the future thanks to D&D. However, it's also been the source of the most vile, angry and completely un-fun nights of gaming that I've ever been involved in.

nagora
2007-04-27, 06:09 PM
If you, as the GM, prevent my cleric from raising his companion because they are a different alignment/worship a different god/whatever, then I'll feel cheated. I've worked to get myself to a level where I have the ability to raise dead, and you're essentially saying that you'll only let me use it when you want to. Raise dead is a 5th level spell. If you're telling the cleric he has to clear his choice of who to cast it on with his god, then how is that in any way fair to him when the wizard tosses feeblemind at whoever he wants?


There are pluses and minuses to being a cleric. Getting to choose from the whole range of spells is a plus, having to clear 5th+ level spells with "The Boss" is a minus. The PC's religion carries responsibilities and, ultimately, the Deity is in charge. That's just the way it is. It was specifically stated in the 1st Ed rules and I'd be surprised and disappointed if this has changed.

nagora
2007-04-27, 06:17 PM
While you could decide to run things this way, I'm not aware of anything in any book that suggests this. Spells to revive the dead aren't labeled as special and different from any other divine spell.


In 1st Ed all divine spells over 4th level were subject to Deity veto (or replacement with something else). The cleric serves the God, not the other way around.

Saph
2007-04-27, 06:31 PM
The lack of balance is even more noticable at lower levels. Even a single goblin is a threat for a level 1 hero.
But a level 5 hero can keep many goblins for a long time, asuming he can fight in a place that limits the number of attacks per round (corridor).

And the problem with that is . . . ? Level 5 heroes in D&D are tough, as tough as Aragorn or Boromir. Unless they're caught in a bad tactical position or overwhelmingly outnumbered, they should be more than a match for goblins.


As for traps, take a single trap that deals an avarage of 8 HP. It will kill all regular people, kill most level 1 heroes

No it won't. At most, it'll drop them to negative HP, where their companions can stabilise and heal them.


severely injure most heroes on levels 2-3, but on level 5 it will be no more then an inconvenience that can be healed.

A CR 1 trap is a challenge for a level 1 party. A CR 1 trap is not a challenge for a level 5 party. To challenge a level 5 party, you need a CR 5 trap. That's the whole point of having a level system.

This is sounding less and less like "Disadvantages of D&D" and more like "Why I hate D&D and why you should play GURPS instead". I've played GURPS. It's got its good points, but I think D&D is better for heroic high-fantasy games.

- Saph

Ulzgoroth
2007-04-27, 07:18 PM
There are pluses and minuses to being a cleric. Getting to choose from the whole range of spells is a plus, having to clear 5th+ level spells with "The Boss" is a minus. The PC's religion carries responsibilities and, ultimately, the Deity is in charge. That's just the way it is. It was specifically stated in the 1st Ed rules and I'd be surprised and disappointed if this has changed.

In 1st Ed all divine spells over 4th level were subject to Deity veto (or replacement with something else). The cleric serves the God, not the other way around.
1st ed. was a long time ago (before my time to be sure). That rule is no longer on the books. A cleric can't keep any spells if they grossly offend their god (if applicable, a patron god isn't required) or cause, but they don't have to clear regular magic use on a case by case basis. Miracle has some remnant of that, in that any request out of line with the power you call on won't be granted, but other spells don't require negotiation.

deadseashoals
2007-04-27, 07:34 PM
There's a construct in one of the books that's basically a tank. It's a block of stone with 2 stone rollers, six arms I think, spell and damage resistance, and a plethora of spell-like abilities (including wall of force I think). It's name escapes me, but the CR for the beast is something like a CR 12. It's obscene. We've sat and tried to work out how to kill it, and the best we've come up with for a 12th level party of 4 is to disintegrate the ground under it and try to smash it from above, and it still killed 2 party members and ate up way over 1/5 of our resources.

The Juggernaut, from MMII. A classy monster all around. Forcecage and wall of force at will, a 10d10 (!!) trample attack that incapacitates, tin can AC and DR, and virtually unbeatable SR. This is one of the more egregiously under-CRed monsters out there. Even without the ridiculous spell-like abilities it's under-CRed.

Rock Roller
2007-04-27, 08:18 PM
Thanks for the catch deadseashoals. For an perfect example of the D&D arms race mentality that I'm talking about, serendipitously posted coincidentally with this thread, check this one out:
http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=42304


There are pluses and minuses to being a cleric. Getting to choose from the whole range of spells is a plus, having to clear 5th+ level spells with "The Boss" is a minus. The PC's religion carries responsibilities and, ultimately, the Deity is in charge. That's just the way it is. It was specifically stated in the 1st Ed rules and I'd be surprised and disappointed if this has changed.

Sure there are. But that's a drawback that isn't written into the Cleric class description, and if you pull it out without telling me ahead of time that you're likely to do that, then I think that I should rightly feel cheated.

From the 3.5 SRD (which is what I can legally quote here, but it's pretty close to what's in the PHB):

A cleric casts divine spells, which are drawn from the cleric spell list. However, his alignment may restrict him from casting certain spells opposed to his moral or ethical beliefs; see Chaotic, Evil, Good, and Lawful Spells, below. A cleric must choose and prepare his spells in advance (see below).

To prepare or cast a spell, a cleric must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a cleric’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the cleric’s Wisdom modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a cleric can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on Table: The Cleric. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Wisdom score. A cleric also gets one domain spell of each spell level he can cast, starting at 1st level. When a cleric prepares a spell in a domain spell slot, it must come from one of his two domains (see Deities, Domains, and Domain Spells, below).

Clerics meditate or pray for their spells. Each cleric must choose a time at which he must spend 1 hour each day in quiet contemplation or supplication to regain his daily allotment of spells. Time spent resting has no effect on whether a cleric can prepare spells. A cleric may prepare and cast any spell on the cleric spell list, provided that he can cast spells of that level, but he must choose which spells to prepare during his daily meditation.

Deity, Domains, and Domain Spells

A cleric’s deity influences his alignment, what magic he can perform, his values, and how others see him. A cleric chooses two domains from among those belonging to his deity. A cleric can select an alignment domain (Chaos, Evil, Good, or Law) only if his alignment matches that domain.

If a cleric is not devoted to a particular deity, he still selects two domains to represent his spiritual inclinations and abilities. The restriction on alignment domains still applies.
...
Chaotic, Evil, Good, and Lawful Spells

A cleric can’t cast spells of an alignment opposed to his own or his deity’s (if he has one). Spells associated with particular alignments are indicated by the chaos, evil, good, and law descriptors in their spell descriptions.
...
Ex-Clerics

A cleric who grossly violates the code of conduct required by his god loses all spells and class features, except for armor and shield proficiencies and proficiency with simple weapons. He cannot thereafter gain levels as a cleric of that god until he atones (see the atonement spell description).

Roderick_BR
2007-04-27, 08:27 PM
I used Gurps as an example, because that's one of the point buy games I'm more familiar with, and I hear some horrible combos you can make.
Limit starting abilities? That's what D&D's levels are supposed to do. Your starting 1st level fighter can't be more powerful than a 6th level fighter.

And once our DM did an accidental TPK by throwing 20 first level warriors against 6 5th level PCs. (And the 2 wizards were eating by a sea dragon, no save allowed, when they tried to flee, but that was just the DM being stupid)

Some ranger builds can be pretty powerful. With the right feats, you can make a good ranged field control fighter.

random11
2007-04-27, 11:30 PM
This is sounding less and less like "Disadvantages of D&D" and more like "Why I hate D&D and why you should play GURPS instead". I've played GURPS. It's got its good points, but I think D&D is better for heroic high-fantasy games.

- Saph

I can't say I hate D&D, it's just that I like more realistic campaigns, and D&D requires tons of house rules to adjust to that.
Your'e right, if you want a more cinematic game, D&D is better.

nagora
2007-04-28, 04:22 AM
But that's a drawback that isn't written into the Cleric class description, and if you pull it out without telling me ahead of time that you're likely to do that, then I think that I should rightly feel cheated.


I don't see why, as the old rule simply spelt out something which should have been common sense: Gods give clerics powers to further the gods' goals, not as some sort of of munchkin booster pack to satisfy the character's unrestrained personal hedonism or to unconditionally help out his/her pals.

Once a cleric is "armed" with a spell, of course, s/he might turn around and do something with it that was not what the deity wanted (and the GM is responsible for not playing the deity as an idiot), but then they will have to explain themselves next time they ask for spells. This obviously becomes more and more of an issue as the character gains levels and the powers granted become more significant.

Making the relationship between the cleric and their deity a mechanical one where the deity has to grant whatever the cleric asks for (albeit within alignment restrictions) is a design error in the game and severly undermines the role-playing aspect.

ANYWAY, this has drifted off-topic. It still comes down to the GM's ability to run a quality game. I'll grant that 3rd edition in some ways does encourage bad play by GMs and players, but it does not require it and I don't think GURPS or any other system prevents it.

Jayabalard
2007-04-28, 08:23 AM
I used Gurps as an example, because that's one of the point buy games I'm more familiar with, and I hear some horrible combos you can make.I'm not really sure what you mean. Certainly, if you make a one sided character then you can make a frighteningly efficient killing machine... but they're pretty much useless unless you're playing a strictly combat game, and really, who the hell plays GURPS to play through combat only? I mean, it's not a very good system for that style game and even those frighteningly efficient killing machines can be killed by a single lucky commoner.... In my experience, they're about as common as people playing pun-pun in D&D, and not even in the same league of brokenness.

I'm not claiming that GURPS is perfect or anything, but I see it as a system that does encourage realistic characters, discourage power building (as it's not generally an effective way to play the game), and has less power creep than D&D.

Sir Giacomo
2007-04-28, 08:38 AM
The last several pages of OOTS exposed very common problems in D&D:

1) Leveling up turns you stronger in a ridicules rate. A medium leveled hero can be in the middle of a battle zone filled with hobgoblins without even a chalange, and certainly without a real threat to him.

2) HP goes up too fast. Like in Roy's case, taking an arrow for another friend is not heroic at all. Traps need to be extremely complex to cause real damage or to offer a threat.

3) It's hard to take death seriously if there are so many ways to bring someone back.

I know that mostly because of these reasons I moved from D&D to Gurps many years ago, but I'm wondering how D&D players handle these problems, and if they are even considered as problems.

As Saph already said, level up slower, make a low-level campaign (where even 5th level spells are extremely rare) and you're fine. I'd even go beyond Saph and say that the DD3.5 system is just fine to handle a good low-level campaign.
- combat goes much faster without multiple attacks
- spell selection goes much faster since there are much less spells to choose from
- players get less distracted by their tons of abilities to handle the adventures with their ideas and innovations.

- Giacomo

PS: even if off-topic, fully agree to nagora's post on cleric powers and how they should be handled in play...

Thoughtbot360
2007-04-28, 08:16 PM
But the GOD has to agree. What argument are you going to make that Ted, the 7th level thief is more deserving of divinely-granted life than any number of clergy who may have fallen down the stairs or whatever this week?

Pray to Olidamara?

Jasdoif
2007-04-28, 09:10 PM
Got any better alternatives for someone who wants some rule based Gaming in his RPG? (You can of course abandon rule based gaming entirely and just go for drama ... but, meh. Not for me.)Psionic revivify (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/powers/psionicRevivify.htm) has a nice mechanic to it. The XP cost (200 base for the caster, 100 extra for caster and recipient for each round recipient has been dead) makes it unwise or impossible to use with regularity, while not having a strict level loss makes it ideal for the occasional accident.

Innis Cabal
2007-04-28, 09:13 PM
why must we focus on the bad parts of the game?

Ulzgoroth
2007-04-28, 09:28 PM
why must we focus on the bad parts of the game?
The title of the thread might constitute a reason.

mauslin
2007-04-28, 10:10 PM
Other then using a different system or removing raise dead spells from the game, there are some alternatives.

For example, raising the dead binds the resurrected person to the god that raised him, until he repays a favor.
This can be any side quest as long as it won't give the characters any advantage (all items and gold found on the quest must be donated for this god).
It can also be any other type of sacrifice such as giving up a unique item the character owns, giving ALL his gold or anything else you can think of.
If the character breaks the rules while still being bound to the god, he will die. Any attampt to cheat will cause the same result.


Another option, limit the "raise dead" spells that they can only be used on holy ground of that god (tamples or anything else).
While the death will still not be final, the group will still be at a great loss of one hero until they can return to such a place, and the character wil lose all exp gained in the time he is "gone".
This will turn a sacrifice to something that will still be worth it, but only on extreme cases.

I've heard of a milder version of this. Clerics can cast raise dead normally, but can only partially bring you back. Until you reach the holy ground/repay the god/do what ever, you cannot gain experience because you are still missing part of your soul.

This means that the other players don't have to cart the body away, and the afflicted player can still play en route, but dying remains a major inconvenience.

Justin_Bacon
2007-04-28, 10:38 PM
I'm just saying that the rules as written and the game as it seems to be commonly understood from my experience at cons and on-line tend to encourage players to try to find "optimum builds." This, in turn, tends to drive GM's to post questions like "My player has done X, what can I do to challenge him?" or "My player's wizard/cleric/druid build has broken my game. Help!"

You make it sound as if GURPS and Hero don't have the exact same problem. ;)


However, it's also been the source of the most vile, angry and completely un-fun nights of gaming that I've ever been involved in.

Get better players.

clericwithnogod
2007-04-28, 11:39 PM
I don't see why, as the old rule simply spelt out something which should have been common sense: Gods give clerics powers to further the gods' goals, not as some sort of of munchkin booster pack to satisfy the character's unrestrained personal hedonism or to unconditionally help out his/her pals.


What the rules in first edition did was add an arbitrary and unnecessary rule based upon fluff to a mechanical klooge (the cleric as healer/raiser/remover of conditions) which was necessary to allow long-term campaigns without excessive turnover using a wargaming mechanic.



Once a cleric is "armed" with a spell, of course, s/he might turn around and do something with it that was not what the deity wanted (and the GM is responsible for not playing the deity as an idiot), but then they will have to explain themselves next time they ask for spells. This obviously becomes more and more of an issue as the character gains levels and the powers granted become more significant.


Anything a cleric does that disagrees with his deity's goals and expectations of conduct may need to be answered for...if your campaign has active deities that interact with their followers. Some campaigns don't and it provides new avenues for roleplay.

Limiting the cleric to healing or raising only those that the deity specifically approves of does nothing to balance the cleric. It just limits the other players' ability to make choices about their characters by limiting them to something acceptable to the alignment and deity chosen by the player of the cleric.

Healing is and always has been a mechanical necessity in DND. Limiting it based upon arbitrary fluff doesn't enhance roleplay, it limits it. Or, it breaks the mechanics.



Making the relationship between the cleric and their deity a mechanical one where the deity has to grant whatever the cleric asks for (albeit within alignment restrictions) is a design error in the game and severly undermines the role-playing aspect.


Like most other rules that by default enable players rather than restricting them, it makes it obvious to the players when the DM is screwing them by changing the rules. This encourages players to change DMs rather than changing systems.

You dislike the flavor of it and want to add a fluff restriction. That's not the same as a design error. There are plenty of ways in which this mechanic can allow for better roleplay than forcing the cleric to worship some cheesy deity - and limiting the player based upon a DM's arbitrary interpretation of the cheesy deity's morality.



ANYWAY, this has drifted off-topic. It still comes down to the GM's ability to run a quality game. I'll grant that 3rd edition in some ways does encourage bad play by GMs and players, but it does not require it and I don't think GURPS or any other system prevents it.

The DM and players are equally important if you want to have an enjoyable session or campaign in any system. Bad sessions or bad campaigns that can be blamed on only the players or only the DM are few and far between.

3rd edition does more to enable good roleplaying and gaming in general than any previous edition of DND. The improved mechanics emphasize a DM's role as creator of an entertaining, interactive adventure rather than arbitrary decider of outcomes. The players' actions have consequences and their success or failure using their abilitites and skills determine the outcome of events as opposed to the DM telling a story and the players just acting parts in the script.

Things have changed for the better in 3rd edition. Give it a try and you'll see.

random11
2007-04-29, 12:35 AM
You make it sound as if GURPS and Hero don't have the exact same problem. ;)



Gurps does have optimization problems, like every system that involves ANY kind of decisions from players (all of them?).
But Gurps and some other point based systems have two advantages over D&D:

1) there is no "PING, level up, you gained 8 more HP and some other bunch of skills". The leveling up in a point based system is with a few points each adventure, which leads to a more realistic aproach.

2) At least in Gurps, since your HP are always relatively low, terms like "meat shield" do not exist and any wound should be takes seriously.
Since I prefer realism over cinematic campaigns, that alone is a good reason to prefer Gurps.

Yahzi
2007-04-29, 01:55 AM
there is no "PING, level up, you gained 8 more HP and some other bunch of skills". The leveling up in a point based system is with a few points each adventure, which leads to a more realistic aproach.
I think it is also a more fun approach. If I had to pick one flaw in D&D that bugs me the most, it's that characters get better in huge steps. So huge that they only get to do it 20 times in an entire campaign.

Really, we should break down each class feature/hp raise and let the players buy them as they slowly work through the next level.

Innis Cabal
2007-04-29, 01:57 AM
like the online game? Oh ya...that would work great....

Dan_Hemmens
2007-04-29, 04:03 AM
What are the alternatives?

Remove risk of death mostly from the game. (Please don't bring up the whole "but when the players do something stupid I kill them" thing ... this is about risk for players who play the game smart, either there is real risk of death for them or there isn't, if there is a real risk then the fact that you play with dice will result in character deaths ... and the level of risk will determine the frequency.)


Actually that's exactly the option I use these days. It's either enforced through IC immortality (as in my 24 hour Espionage RPG downloadable here: http://www.modus-operandi.co.uk/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=70&Itemid=26) or else just by not having "dead" as a predefined state in the combat system.

I just find that the possibility of arbitrary death undermines the agency of the players.

nagora
2007-04-29, 05:02 PM
What the rules in first edition did was add an arbitrary and unnecessary rule based upon fluff to a mechanical klooge (the cleric as healer/raiser/remover of conditions) which was necessary to allow long-term campaigns without excessive turnover using a wargaming mechanic.
Nonsense.




Anything a cleric does that disagrees with his deity's goals and expectations of conduct may need to be answered for...if your campaign has active deities that interact with their followers. Some campaigns don't and it provides new avenues for roleplay.

It allows new avenues to abuse the concept of role playing.


Limiting the cleric to healing or raising only those that the deity specifically approves of does nothing to balance the cleric.
It's not supposed to; it's supposed to point out that you have choosen to play a character with special responsibilities. If you don't want them, then don't play a cleric.


It just limits the other players' ability to make choices about their characters by limiting them to something acceptable to the alignment and deity chosen by the player of the cleric.

That's life; deal with it.


Healing is and always has been a mechanical necessity in DND. Limiting it based upon arbitrary fluff doesn't enhance roleplay, it limits it. Or, it breaks the mechanics.

Playing the role is not fluff. Rules which require you to do so are not fluff.



Like most other rules that by default enable players rather than restricting them, it makes it obvious to the players when the DM is screwing them by changing the rules. This encourages players to change DMs rather than changing systems.

No, it intends to empower the DM to tell a munchkin that he's out of line. It's impossible to completely rule out bad play, of course. Ultimately the answer is to not play with people who want ego-boosting wish-fullfillment with no regard to the role they are ostensibly playing.


You dislike the flavor of it and want to add a fluff restriction.

Requiring clerics to obey their god's aims is not fluff.


That's not the same as a design error. There are plenty of ways in which this mechanic can allow for better roleplay than forcing the cleric to worship some cheesy deity

Forcing them to worship the deity they CHOOSE?! And, I take it from this that you think that any deity which is not basically playing the part of a super-familiar at the beck and call of the player is "cheesy".


- and limiting the player based upon a DM's arbitrary interpretation of the cheesy deity's morality.

It's the DM's world; s/he can interpret it any way they like; in fact that's their job. They should not be arbitary, but that is not the same as saying that they can't set the world up in a consistant way of their choosing.


The DM and players are equally important if you want to have an enjoyable session or campaign in any system. Bad sessions or bad campaigns that can be blamed on only the players or only the DM are few and far between.

3rd edition does more to enable good roleplaying and gaming in general than any previous edition of DND.

I think it encourages more "power gaming" and jinking the system; which it seems that you regard as "empowering" the players. I'm not a teenager anymore so that sort of play disinterests me. I'm more interested in playing a character realistically and believably in a fantasy world.


The improved mechanics emphasize a DM's role as creator of an entertaining, interactive adventure rather than arbitrary decider of outcomes. The players' actions have consequences and their success or failure using their abilitites and skills determine the outcome of events as opposed to the DM telling a story and the players just acting parts in the script.

Things have changed for the better in 3rd edition. Give it a try and you'll see.

Tried it; not interested. But it still remains that a bad DM is a bad DM even armed with the best system in the world. The same applies to players.

PinkysBrain
2007-04-29, 07:57 PM
I just find that the possibility of arbitrary death undermines the agency of the players.
I have to agree, but in the end removing the risk of death doesn't make the game any more realistic than having easily accessible resurrection magic. I doubt the OP likes your solution any more than he likes D&D's solution ;)

Sergeantbrother
2007-04-29, 10:23 PM
Forcing them to worship the deity they CHOOSE?! And, I take it from this that you think that any deity which is not basically playing the part of a super-familiar at the beck and call of the player is "cheesy".

Great point. That is one of my biggest pet peeves about D&D clerics. That they are treated just like some guy who has magical healing powers that he can use when ever he wants. That isn't what a cleric is. A cleric serves a deity or philosophy or some force or ideal greater than himself that he is dedicated to. This should mean a large amount of role playing serving the faith and not just acting like a wizard who can heal and wear armor. Any time a cleric acts the player and DM should be wondering if that action is appropriate for the cleric's religion - that should be the major part of playing a cleric.

Justin_Bacon
2007-04-30, 09:31 PM
Gurps does have optimization problems, like every system that involves ANY kind of decisions from players (all of them?). But Gurps and some other point based systems have two advantages over D&D:

1) there is no "PING, level up, you gained 8 more HP and some other bunch of skills". The leveling up in a point based system is with a few points each adventure, which leads to a more realistic aproach.

I love moving targets. First you're complaining about how D&D allows players to search for optimized builds. Now you admit that complaint had no basis, so you start moving the target around...


2) At least in Gurps, since your HP are always relatively low, terms like "meat shield" do not exist and any wound should be takes seriously.
Since I prefer realism over cinematic campaigns, that alone is a good reason to prefer Gurps.

You just buy DR 30 for 150 points.

"But you can't do that! You don't have enough points!"

You're comparing apples and oranges. Your comparing a low-point GURPS game to a high-level D&D game. If I did the same thing in reverse (low-level D&D game to a high-point GURPS game) you'd get all kinds of silliness:

"Oh, this is completely ridiculous! A common, every day guy in GURPS can buy Flight for 30 points! You can't do that in D&D! My 1st level fighter would never be able to fly!"


Great point. That is one of my biggest pet peeves about D&D clerics. That they are treated just like some guy who has magical healing powers that he can use when ever he wants. That isn't what a cleric is.

Don't blame the game system for crappy players.

Justin Alexander
http://www.thealexandrian.net

Stephen_E
2007-04-30, 10:21 PM
Part of what you're looking at is that RPG games mostly use 1 of 2 methods to create develop PC power.

90% of the PC power exists at creation. The other 10% develops with play.

10% of the PC power exists at creation. The other 90% develops with play.

Gurps, Shadowrun and many other games are type 1.
DnD, Rolemaster and others are type 2.

Neither is inherently better or more realistc than the other. They're just different. It's as silly as arguing over which is better, Pepsi or Coke.

Just a comment on Gurps. Gurps is FAR more stat driven than DnD.
A Gurps Swordsman with 18 Dex and 1 pt in the skill is superior to a Swordsman with 10 Dex, pretty much regardless of how much the Dex 10 guy puts into Swordskill, and the Dex 18 guy is also vastly better at all the other Dex based skills. In DnD a 10th level Fighter with 10 Str will completely kick the arse of a 1st level Fighter with 20 Str.

And you're tell me Gurps is more realistic. Right..........

Stephen

Innis Cabal
2007-04-30, 10:29 PM
i think the biggest disadvantage of D&D is...well several reasons
1. Its big enough to have a large following and thus alot of people who want to complain the game isnt balanced or has problems yet not want to fix them themselves
2. Has been around long enough to dominate the market of TTRPG's and thus gives few alternatives or alternatives that are so obscure that most dont try to look for them

Jayabalard
2007-04-30, 11:12 PM
A Gurps Swordsman with 18 Dex and 1 pt in the skill is superior to a Swordsman with 10 Dex, pretty much regardless of how much the Dex 10 guy puts into Swordskill, and the Dex 18 guy is also vastly better at all the other Dex based skills. In DnD a 10th level Fighter with 10 Str will completely kick the arse of a 1st level Fighter with 20 Str.

And you're tell me Gurps is more realistic. Right..........

StephenQuite untrue... while a high dex character will be better at more dex based skills, and may be better for making a more rounded individual... if you just want one weapon skill, it's far cheaper to just buy the skill at 8 points per skill than buying high DX at 20+ points per DX (1 DX = 1 skill)...It isn't cost effective to pump dex unless you're going to either have at least 3-4 high level DX skills, or a whole mess of DX based skills (which isn't the case for an 18 DX character.

So a 10 dex character can easily be a better swordsman than a 18 dex one, especially if the 10 dex character has more character points total. A 18 DX swordsman with 1 point in the sword skill has a 17 sword (16 if it's fencing), and he's spent 126 points to get that skill, and if they are a standard 100 point starting character that leaves 19 points for everything else; a 10 DX swordsman can get a 17 skill with only 48 points... and the 10 DX swordsman could easily have a skill 10 points higher than the 18 DX swordsman, even if they don't have more character points than the 18 DX swordsman.

Your example where you try to compare systems and use a lvl 10 warrior over a lvl 1 warrior is a flawed one... In D&D this is a fairly experienced warrior vs someone who has not held a sword for very long. In gurps, the equivalent is something like a 100 CP character vs a 175-200 CP character; the higher point level character generally has a clear advantage (though not as much as the higher level character in D&D) BUT ONLY IF the lower point character has not invested more time in learning how to fight than the higher point character has... which is indeed possible, even in the real world (but not in D&D).

going back to the 18DX/100 CP vs 10 DX/200CP example... the 10 DX swordsman could have a skill in the 40s, making him all but untouchable to the 18DX swordsman... or he could have totally neglected his training... or be somewhere in between... just like a real person, his competence in battle is based on how much time he has invested in his training and his experience.

so yes, I'm telling you that GURPS is far more realistic...

Jayabalard
2007-04-30, 11:47 PM
odd, double post

Quietus
2007-05-01, 12:20 AM
It's as silly as arguing over which is better, Pepsi or Coke.

You're right, that IS silly. Coke is clearly the superior soft drink.

Now, rather than arguing about GURPS, how about going back on-topic?

Jothki
2007-05-01, 12:34 AM
If you want to flatten out the power curve in D&D, why just start everything at a higher level? That way, adventurers more closely resemble commoners but still have the potential to grow vastly powerful, sentient monsters would scale better (since you could realisticly go from level 3 warrior goblins to level 6 warrior goblins), and spellcasters would no longer seem like they started off flunking out of adventurer school.

If you leave animals as they are, that also solves a few quirks. Sure, a cat can beat up a level 1 commoner, but that's the parents' fault for leaving their kid near a vicious animal.

belboz
2007-05-01, 01:54 AM
Part of what you're looking at is that RPG games mostly use 1 of 2 methods to create develop PC power.

90% of the PC power exists at creation. The other 10% develops with play.

10% of the PC power exists at creation. The other 90% develops with play.

Gurps, Shadowrun and many other games are type 1.
DnD, Rolemaster and others are type 2.

Neither is inherently better or more realistc than the other. They're just different. It's as silly as arguing over which is better, Pepsi or Coke.



This is an interesting observation. I wonder if anyone has played around with the balance at all--not to make things "better", but just to see if the difference is interesting. Can anyone think of a game where the division is somewhere in between, for example? (Where, for instance, a character with approximately the same adventuring experience as a D&D level 20 character would, say, be able to take on 5 rank neophytes singlehandedly with more or less complete confidence, but wouldn't be able to take on 50 with any confidence at all? That feels to me, in a totally unscientific way, about midway between the low-point-buy GURPS and D&D levels of character power growth.

random11
2007-05-01, 02:01 AM
Part of what you're looking at is that RPG games mostly use 1 of 2 methods to create develop PC power.

90% of the PC power exists at creation. The other 10% develops with play.

10% of the PC power exists at creation. The other 90% develops with play.

Gurps, Shadowrun and many other games are type 1.
DnD, Rolemaster and others are type 2.

Neither is inherently better or more realistc than the other. They're just different. It's as silly as arguing over which is better, Pepsi or Coke.

Just a comment on Gurps. Gurps is FAR more stat driven than DnD.
A Gurps Swordsman with 18 Dex and 1 pt in the skill is superior to a Swordsman with 10 Dex, pretty much regardless of how much the Dex 10 guy puts into Swordskill, and the Dex 18 guy is also vastly better at all the other Dex based skills. In DnD a 10th level Fighter with 10 Str will completely kick the arse of a 1st level Fighter with 20 Str.

And you're tell me Gurps is more realistic. Right..........

Stephen

To balance Gurps, you simply need to restrict the max number of points you can use in the beginning for an attribute or skill.

Balancing realism in D&D is etremely hard and requires tons of house rules.

random11
2007-05-01, 02:19 AM
I love moving targets. First you're complaining about how D&D allows players to search for optimized builds. Now you admit that complaint had no basis, so you start moving the target around...

I never complained about optimization problems, this exists in all games.
I did however, complain about the speed of progress.


You just buy DR 30 for 150 points.

"But you can't do that! You don't have enough points!"

You're comparing apples and oranges. Your comparing a low-point GURPS game to a high-level D&D game. If I did the same thing in reverse (low-level D&D game to a high-point GURPS game) you'd get all kinds of silliness:

The problems or realism in D&D exist also on lower levels.
A 3rd level hero can take 3 times more hits then a first level. We're talking about getting struck with three arrows in the chest while only a year ago (in game time) you would die from just one.

Also, since the progress is based on levels instead of points, you can lose to a creature today, gain a level and beat the crap out of it the day after. That's a major realism disadvantage.


"Oh, this is completely ridiculous! A common, every day guy in GURPS can buy Flight for 30 points! You can't do that in D&D! My 1st level fighter would never be able to fly!"

Don't blame the game system for crappy players.

Gurps has flaws, that's why it requires that each skill or trait is approved by the DM, but that's not different from classes in D&D.
Potentially, Gurps needs a lot less work to become realistic.

Justin_Bacon
2007-05-01, 03:25 AM
A 3rd level hero can take 3 times more hits then a first level. We're talking about getting struck with three arrows in the chest while only a year ago (in game time) you would die from just one.

I'm going to be somewhat brusque here: If you don't even understand how hit points work, then I can't really take your analysis of the system seriously. I mean, these are a basic mechanic and you've just demonstrated that you have absolutely no understanding of them.

It's not like they're a complicated system either. We're talking about comprehending about six paragraphs of text.

Go and read those six paragraphs. Then you'll understand that the 3rd level hero didn't take three arrows to the chest, because those extra hit points specifically reflect his ability to NOT take three arrows to the chest.

Then you can run some math and tell me how a 3rd level commoner with 3 hit points can be hit with 3 arrows and survive.

Then we'll pop over to GURPS and see how two ST 10 characters facing off against each other will ALSO survive three arrow hits on average. (ST 10 = 10 hit points and 1d-2 thrust damage; normal bow does thr+1. These characters will be doing 1d-1 with the bow, for an average of 2.5 points per hit. They can actually be hit an average of 4 times before keeling over. I'm a little rusty with my GURPS... did I miss anything?)

And then you'll reply and probably try to move the goalposts again.

Justin Alexander
http://www.thealexandrian.net

random11
2007-05-01, 03:39 AM
I'm going to be somewhat brusque here: If you don't even understand how hit points work, then I can't really take your analysis of the system seriously. I mean, these are a basic mechanic and you've just demonstrated that you have absolutely no understanding of them.

It's not like they're a complicated system either. We're talking about comprehending about six paragraphs of text.

Go and read those six paragraphs. Then you'll understand that the 3rd level hero didn't take three arrows to the chest, because those extra hit points specifically reflect his ability to NOT take three arrows to the chest.

Then you can run some math and tell me how a 3rd level commoner with 3 hit points can be hit with 3 arrows and survive.

Then we'll pop over to GURPS and see how two ST 10 characters facing off against each other will ALSO survive three arrow hits on average. (ST 10 = 10 hit points and 1d-2 thrust damage; normal bow does thr+1. These characters will be doing 1d-1 with the bow, for an average of 2.5 points per hit. They can actually be hit an average of 4 times before keeling over. I'm a little rusty with my GURPS... did I miss anything?)

And then you'll reply and probably try to move the goalposts again.

Justin Alexander
http://www.thealexandrian.net


I know what HP is supposed to be, but the term "meat shield" could not have been created if there wasn't for that flaw.

The problem is also not the exact calculation of how many arrows you can be struck with, but the illogical increment of that number.
In D&D, the number climbs quickly, in Gurps it remains more or less the same.

Gamebird
2007-05-01, 08:47 AM
The problem is also not the exact calculation of how many arrows you can be struck with, but the illogical increment of that number.
In D&D, the number climbs quickly, in Gurps it remains more or less the same.

That seems to be the core of it. D&D power levels rise quickly to match uber-powerful creatures and magicks. Gurps doesn't, because that's beyond the kin of normal man (unless you're playing a higher powered game to start with).

I like the latter, but I can't find enough people to play Gurps, so I'll fake it by topping out my D&D campaigns around 7th or 8th level.

Roderick_BR
2007-05-01, 10:09 AM
Gurps does have optimization problems, like every system that involves ANY kind of decisions from players (all of them?).
But Gurps and some other point based systems have two advantages over D&D:

1) there is no "PING, level up, you gained 8 more HP and some other bunch of skills". The leveling up in a point based system is with a few points each adventure, which leads to a more realistic aproach.

2) At least in Gurps, since your HP are always relatively low, terms like "meat shield" do not exist and any wound should be takes seriously.
Since I prefer realism over cinematic campaigns, that alone is a good reason to prefer Gurps.

1) Although it's not exacly how it happens (D&D is not Final Fantasy, it is considered the character needs a training period), that's what make D&D. Epic character (not Epic level), that can fight many kinds of monsters.
Just because it is inherently a "high power" game, it doesn't mean it's bad.
"Woohoo! We kille the lich, destroyed the orc army, and recovered the Lost Treasure of the Overseer God! I can raise my sword skill in 1/2 point."

2) Again, D&D is a high power campaign. Your average adventurer can withstand most wounds that would kill a common person. In Gurps, you need to keep the game in "real" levels, or you risk TPKing your group. Army of zombies? Dragons? Demons? No way.

So, in short: I want realism in human levels, I play Gurps. I want detailed skill games, I play StoryTeller (I use it in many non-super powers based games). I want to fight arch demons in personal combat? I play D&D. There's no use comparing one game with the other because they are too different.

Matthew
2007-05-01, 09:39 PM
Well, unless your characters are happy with rolling up new characters every other session, there's really only one way to do that: Remove the epic feats and accomplishments from the game. You can't really call it DUNGEONS & DRAGONS any more, because you'll never actually face a dragon. Maybe we could call it DUNGEONS & GIANT IGUANAS.
This is my main beef with Third Edition. The difference between a Level 1 and Level 20 Character is much greater than it has ever been before and, as a consequence, if you do choose to play low level it does rule out being able to face off against some Monsters, which is a bit sad, as 'Heroic Fantasy' is not the same thing as 'Super Heroic'. It's the main reason I don't use 3.x for long term campaigns.

3rd edition does more to enable good roleplaying and gaming in general than any previous edition of DND. The improved mechanics emphasize a DM's role as creator of an entertaining, interactive adventure rather than arbitrary decider of outcomes. The players' actions have consequences and their success or failure using their abilitites and skills determine the outcome of events as opposed to the DM telling a story and the players just acting parts in the script.

Things have changed for the better in 3rd edition. Give it a try and you'll see.
Well, that's one view.

I know what HP is supposed to be, but the term "meat shield" could not have been created if there wasn't for that flaw.

The problem is also not the exact calculation of how many arrows you can be struck with, but the illogical increment of that number.
In D&D, the number climbs quickly, in Gurps it remains more or less the same.
Nah, the element you are missing is 'Divine Favour'. As Characters increase in levels they just get 'luckier'. Unless a Character is at 0 Hit Points or less he simply is not wounded in any significant way, as there are no ill effects, which is the real problem.

Jayabalard
2007-05-02, 07:30 AM
3rd edition does more to enable good roleplaying and gaming in general than any previous edition of DND. The improved mechanics emphasize a DM's role as creator of an entertaining, interactive adventure rather than arbitrary decider of outcomes.I disagree; it has done quite a bit to make it more profitable for the people who publish it, and they've created much more material to please the people who like to build optimized characters but the Roleplaying potential no greater than it was in 1ed. Personally I believe that it's the opposite, since there are situations now in D&D that are determined by die roll (mechanics) rather than storytelling (roleplay)

Then again, I think we may not agree on the basic terms themseves:

The players' actions have consequences and their success or failure using their abilitites and skills determine the outcome of eventsNot Roleplaying

as opposed to the DM telling a story and the players just acting parts in the script.Roleplaying

Ryshan Ynrith
2007-05-02, 07:50 AM
I think what the 'DM tells a story and everyone acts in their script' thing means is that rules allow for ambiguous setups. The party may or may not succeed in their goal, but it at least feels like it's due to their choices, both as actions and how they chose to train-character creation and leveling. If it's down to DM fiat, a tense situation tends to deflate, because the risk of death becomes arbitrary-you'll die or lose if the DM wants you to.

This can happen in any situation, but the entire point of the ECL and CR systems is to make it possible to create a challenge that has some measure of unpredictability to it. Role-playing is mostly independent of the rules set, but as a player I find it much more engaging if I know that my personal skill and the luck of the dice determines if I slay the dragon/protect my charge, rather than the DM deciding arbitrarily that it is so. Takes some of the suspense out of the game.

Matthew
2007-05-02, 07:52 AM
This can happen in any situation, but the entire point of the ECL and CR systems is to make it possible to create a challenge that has some measure of unpredictability to it.
[nit picking]Not 'possible', 'easier', I think.[/nit picking]

Ryshan Ynrith
2007-05-02, 07:54 AM
[nit picking]Not 'possible', 'easier', I think.[/nit picking]


....point. Easier, then, even if they're often grossly wrong or situational. It provides a sort of starting point for power evaluation, in any case.

Dhavaer
2007-05-02, 07:55 AM
as opposed to the DM telling a story and the players just acting parts in the scriptRoleplaying

I think that one would be 'acting' not 'roleplaying'.

Jayabalard
2007-05-02, 08:21 AM
role-playing - Noun

1. Action in which a person takes a on a role (as that of an actor) and pretends or acts out being that character.

Of the play styles that clericwithnogod listed, only one of them had anything to do with roleplaying... sure, it's the extreme, but it is roleplaying.


Bear in mind that I'm not making a claim as to which play style is better, just that one of them is roleplaying and the other has nothing to do with whether the people are actually roleplaying or not; it's strictly mechanics...

Ryshan Ynrith
2007-05-02, 08:24 AM
...except that conflict resolution has absolutely nothing to do with roleplaying. You can have to exact same character, beautifully played and characterized, in either case, and you can still 'act out' your character, regardless of if the result of your actions is determined by mechanics or DM fiat.

Jayabalard
2007-05-02, 09:03 AM
I'm not sure what you mean... the "except" seems to indicate that you're disagreeing with someone, but you're not really identifying who/what you're disagreeing with

as opposed to the DM telling a story and the players just acting parts in the script. is the playstyle that I identified as being roleplying, even though clericwithnogod and Dhaver have claimed that it's not. In this case, there's actual mention of the players "acting parts", which is roleplaying.

contrast that with

The players' actions have consequences and their success or failure using their abilitites and skills determine the outcome of events which is just using game mechanics to determine outcomes...There's no mention of anything related to roleplaying in this... it's just mechanics.

nagora
2007-05-02, 10:40 AM
If the players are acting out the DM's story then it's just that: acting. If the DM's story changes to reflect the actions of the players' characters then you're into role-playing territory. For "proper" role-playing there must be some free-will on the part of the characters otherwise the only person actually taking on roles is the DM and the resulting scenario could happily play out with no one else ever participating.

In role-playing the player's interpretation of the character is vital, in acting it is the director's which is paramount, and s/he is free to override the actor's view at any point to make the story work. That would be VERY bad DMing indeed!

The factor of the dice, or whatever mechanic you use, is simply an adjunct to the role-play. In effect, the dice play the part of the universe/fate/factors-beyond-our-control and both the DM's NPCs and the players' characters must adapt to them in whatever way their roles suggest to them that they should.

Sorry, did this become a "What is Role Playing" thread all of a sudden? This is pretty basic stuff.

KoDT69
2007-05-02, 12:19 PM
[Scrubbed]

Jayabalard
2007-05-02, 01:07 PM
Sorry, did this become a "What is Role Playing" thread all of a sudden? This is pretty basic stuff.If you'll look above, there was an assertion that "3rd edition does more to enable good roleplaying and gaming in general than any previous edition of DND." in response to an earlier claim that D&D encourages "bad play" ; some people were either agreeing and some were disagreeing, especially since the rest of that statement seems to state that having results of actions determined rolling dice rather than having a DM/GM/Referee decide outcomes have something to do with whether you're roleplaying or not.

I tend to disagree with the idea that game-play mechanics ever encourage roleplaying as well as the various types of free-form gaming where a referee determines the outcomes that fit in the story better... certainly, the way you roll dice to determine outcomes in D&D doesn't do anything as far as encouraging Roleplaying.

Matthew
2007-05-02, 01:10 PM
Indeed, any discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of D&D is going to revolve around definitions of 'good' and 'bad' RPGs, which is based on certain assumptions about what RPGs are supposed to be (which not everyone will agree as to).

Charity
2007-05-02, 03:14 PM
Unless one is talking about art, which lets face it we are not.
The most obvious measure of a 'good' game is it's success, financially speaking.
By this definition and most likely no other D&D is the best role playing game.

However, having many years of experiance playing radically differing systems with a wide variety of people, I have never found roleplaying to be affected by mechanics.
Good players, convince you they are a weasely halfling rogue with a gammy leg whatever game you play, poor players ignore the character and explore personal fantasies, powertrip, compete with one another also regardless of system.

Matthew
2007-05-02, 03:18 PM
Haha, and now we are into interesting territory - defining 'Art'. I would consider many aspects of RPGs to be a form of art, world building and creating suspension of disbelief are especially prominent, but I quite agree with the sentiment that 'good players' are much more important than 'good mechanics'. Still, they can compliment one another and it is better still to have 'good mechanics' and 'good players', surely?

Gamebird
2007-05-02, 03:20 PM
Performance art, yah!

EvilRoeSlade
2007-05-02, 03:28 PM
Iron Heroes gets rid of all these problems and more. Conaan and Red Sonja never needed to down a healing potion. So why should your character? And a high-level archer, who probably won't have anything better than a masterwork composite longbow, can easily kill or seriously cripple someone with one well-placed shot. Suddenly jumping in front of the arrow (which can be easily achieved with Iron Heroes' stunt rules) becomes a lot more heroic.

Charity
2007-05-02, 03:31 PM
Matthew, Of course we all would love to scoff down our own cake.
Truth is, we have much less control over whom we play with than which system we opt for, as there will be a finite and discrete group of local players generally.
Which may be why this debate rages, those that were happy with their players would not be looking to the system to bind them into a contract of playing 'the right way'

One can be artful playing RPG's but it would be conceit to call it art I think.

Oh, I should have added the caveat that utterly broken rules sets just lead to frustrated players, there are a few out there, though not that many.

Oh have you seen the GitP UK meetup thread Matthew? I can't recall whether I sent you a link.

nagora
2007-05-02, 04:07 PM
certainly, the way you roll dice to determine outcomes in D&D doesn't do anything as far as encouraging Roleplaying.
I disagree. In life luck plays a part and we all have to learn to cope with bad luck. Portraying how someone does that is a big part of playing a role.

Matthew
2007-05-02, 04:10 PM
Mmmnnn... Cake...

Truth is, we have much less control over whom we play with than which system we opt for, as there will be a finite and discrete group of local players generally.
Which may be why this debate rages, those that were happy with their players would not be looking to the system to bind them into a contract of playing 'the right way'
Very true and insightful, I would say.


One can be artful playing RPG's but it would be conceit to call it art I think.

Surely the very definition of Art? If Modern Art can be considered Art (not to mention certain forms of 'Media Arts'), then I have no trouble thinking of RPGs as Art. Not that I would yell it from the roof tops, but, yeah, I consider the effort I put into my Campaign World to be a form of artistic expression (whether good or bad is another question!)


Oh, I should have added the caveat that utterly broken rules sets just lead to frustrated players, there are a few out there, though not that many.

Yes indeed, but some rules sets are also 'just boring' or 'too complicated' (MERP springs to mind) or whatever. There certainly are 'bad' rules systems out there.


Oh have you seen the GitP UK meetup thread Matthew? I can't recall whether I sent you a link.
Yeah, I had a look. I think I posted in there as well. I cannot really make any definite plans at the moment, so I'm just keeping an eye on the Thread until I know more about what my other commitments are that month. i would certainly like to be able to turn up.

Morgan_Scott82
2007-05-02, 04:32 PM
I tend to disagree with the idea that game-play mechanics ever encourage roleplaying as well as the various types of free-form gaming where a referee determines the outcomes that fit in the story better... certainly, the way you roll dice to determine outcomes in D&D doesn't do anything as far as encouraging Roleplaying.

I disagree with you here, though admittedly it is a matter of taste, and ours may be incompatible. I want a game where the outcomes of situations are determined by a mechanical means, not the whim of a storyteller, I don't want to fail at a task my character excels at just because it will "build dramatic tension" and contribute to the story. Mechanically derived outcomes makes me feel as if I am interacting with a world, and not a bit player in someone elses drama. To borrow from another roleplaying metaphore it makes me feel more like I'm driving an ATV than taking a train. Sure the train can be an entertaining ride, but I'm only going where the conductor, and the tracks the engineers at the B&O railroad laid down. On an ATV, yeah unexpected stuff can happen, but I can go anywhere... and that sense of freedom is part of what appeals to me about roleplaying.

Now, what does this have to do with the original assertion that mechanics can do nothing to influence roleplaying? Well for gamers who prefer mechanically derived outcomes over plot driven outcomes, it is important to have mechanics that match the character concept. If I wanted to play a character who had spent years adventuring as a petty thug (started the campaign as an evil aligned fighter) a before finding god in the bottom of some rat infested jail cell months into the campaign, it is important that the system be able to mechanically accomodate my characters change of heart, so that I can continue to play the role I've chosen in a mechanically driven game.

This is an arguement I often make when discussing the differences between 2nd and 3rd edition D&D, in 2nd edition if I had started as a fighter, the character would always be a fighter, negating any way to mechanically reflect the change in the role I want to play with this character (ok so there was an exception for humans with a really high ability score in the prime requisite of the class they wanted to change to, but that was really rare), as opposed to third edition where the character could multiclass into cleric or paladin next time he gained a level. Thus the mechanics of 2nd edition discouraged roleplaying this change of heart, while the mechanics of 3rd edition encourage it. Does this mean 3rd edition D&D is universally better for roleplaying than 2nd edition, or GURPS, or WEG D6, or Hero, or Rolemaster? No, not at all, but it does highlight that mechanics do in fact have an influence on roleplaying, by providing an incentive to play a certain, mechanically advantageous, way.

Granted all of this goes out the window if you dislike mechanics driven outcomes, but if thats the case then you're probably best of freeforming and disregarding the concept of a "rules system" at all.

Matthew
2007-05-02, 04:40 PM
Don't forget, though, that (A)D&D 2.x had Character Points by 1995, which made customisation by level (and without levels) increasingly possible.

clericwithnogod
2007-05-02, 04:42 PM
Checkers is a game, it's mechanics are awful for encouraging and enabling roleplay within the game. All editions of DND are games. All versions of the DND game mechanics encourage and enable roleplay better than checkers. 3rd edition in my opinion encourages and enables roleplay than previous editions.

Players sometimes act parts in charades, which is a game. Nevertheless, charades isn't a roleplaying game in the same way that DND is a roleplaying game. Its mechanics don't support roleplay in that fashion.

You can roleplay a job interview, helpdesk call or response situation. You aren't playing a roleplaying game when you do so. Unless you want to argue semantics and use the definition of game as anything you do for fun and you enjoy roleplaying helpdesk calls...

Roleplaying in an adventure game such as DND is assuming the role of a character and acting out what that character would do in situations in a simulated world. Events happen in the simulated world and players react to them and have an effect upon the course of events. It's the players and DM creating a story together, not the DM creating a story and the players acting parts in it.

The Wizards site lists five components to "DND (as a roleplaying game)" under "What is DND":
Part Acting
Part Story Telling
Part Social Interaction
Part War Game
Part Dice Rolling

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/whatisdnd

Roleplaying isn't just acting or story telling within the context of the DND game any more than roleplaying is just wargaming and rolling dice. They're all facets of the roleplaying game and the mechanics of the wargaming and dice rolling support the simulaton of events in a consistent and believable world in which the players and DM act out the parts of their characters and craft their story together. The 3rd edition mechanics are, IMO, superior to those of 1st and 2nd edition, thus, IMO, they facilitate roleplaying better.

The improvements I see in the mechanics of DND and how they enable players to roleplay their character more effectively aren't just giving over to the will of the dice. They include mechanics such as taking 10 or taking 20. abilities such as skill mastery and feats such as steady concentration and fearless which eliminate the need in specific instances to roll at all. This allows a character to make a character that can do the things the player thinks his character should be able to do regardless of rolls of the dice or arbitrary DM resolution. Because the dice are part of the game and the rolls have consequences, those types of mechanical choices mean something within the game, determine how the story plays out and directly affect roleplay.

By default, the dice matter in DND, they're a part of the roleplaying game and thus a part of roleplaying. You can make changes to lessen how much or eliminate them completely, and if that enhances what you define as roleplay and makes it more enjoyable that's great.

But, eliminating the dice or going to free-form roleplay doesn't eliminate mechanics. It just trades a set of known, written mechanics for mechanics arbitrarily developed and implemented on the fly by a referee. In my experience, a quality set of published rules and dice rolling mechanic in a campaign in which the players actions determine the outcome of a storyline creates a more enjoyable environment for roleplay and is thus more conducive to roleplay than a free-form environment in which a referee determines the outcome of actions in order to fit a storyline. YMMV.

Counterpower
2007-05-02, 05:11 PM
Off to be a defender of Dungeons and Dragons!

Well, one complaint that I saw about D&D is that it sometimes isn't realistic. That a 3rd level fighter can take 3 times as much punishment as a 1st level fighter. To that, I say: when was "realism" a part of D&D? Sure, some people prefer that. If you're one of them, then D&D probably isn't a good idea. A world where there are several people capable of razing small nations (Forgotten Realms) isn't supposed to be realistic. I don't play D&D for "gritty realism." I can understand that some people prefer it, but to me, D&D is high fantasy. Certainly, in my campaign, the PCs are going to be the most powerful people in the entire world. Eberron just doesn't have epic-level NPCs. I probably will add one or two, but......... still.

As for the mechanics vs. the roleplaying: I think the players you're with matter more than any of the mechanics. I do agree with some previous posters that the mechanics surely don't get in the way of RPing, and also that they can actually help sometimes. There have to be some mechanics, after all. Without them, who decides what happens? The DM? But what if his decision has fatal consequences for a player? Why does he get to decide who lives and who dies? What's the point of having more than one person if only one person decides what happens? Such a "system" would only work if the DM was fair about the player's chances for success, and didn't just go with whatever he wanted to make a good story.

In a system like D&D with more mechanics............ it still depends on the players. After all, in my last meeting, we ran a battle with a white dragon. Even that wasn't completely mechanics. Sure, the rules as to the dragon's breath weapon and the player's spellcasting were important. But: at one point the dragon had a choice. He could go after the wizard and the druid in front of him or the warmage to the right. Mechanics said "the warmage has immediate-action teleports, making it impossible to hurt him, and the wizard and druid have almost no HP left. Tactically, they're the targets." RP-wise....... "That ******* warmage has hit me 3 times with fire magic and all of my efforts at killing him have gone for naught. I want to slaughter that jerk! DIE!!!!!!!!!!" And, although I haven't played GURPS, from what I can tell that battle would have gone "The dragon breathes a cone of pure ice. You all die, because no one can survive that." in that system.

Then after that we ran the group's return to Sharn, the City of Towers. (equivalent to Waterdeep in FR or New York City) I never picked the dice up again for the rest of the day. Sure, there were some points where the rules would have been better served with initiative. I didn't call for said rolls anyway. Basically, there was an unspoken agreement between all of us that the mechanics would be (mostly) ignored. No one complained "shouldn't that be governed by rules of combat" or anything similar. The whole story is on the thread "Alignment change has never been so much fun!"

Charity
2007-05-02, 06:08 PM
Surely the very definition of Art? If Modern Art can be considered Art (not to mention certain forms of 'Media Arts'), then I have no trouble thinking of RPGs as Art. Not that I would yell it from the roof tops, but, yeah, I consider the effort I put into my Campaign World to be a form of artistic expression (whether good or bad is another question!)
I am deeply ambivilant about Art definitions, any attempt to define something so diverse and subjective is like trying to nail jelly to the ceiling, fun but pointless.
Although, I bet you can't call it art without a smile on your face. I struggle to extend Art to games of any sort, lets face it, if you drag out the definition wide enough... well hell, I'm art.



Yeah, I had a look. I think I posted in there as well. I cannot really make any definite plans at the moment, so I'm just keeping an eye on the Thread until I know more about what my other commitments are that month. i would certainly like to be able to turn up.
Cool, it would be great to see you there, i'm hoping to drag my poor long suffering wife along... I think she may resist my machination's unfortunately.

Tellah
2007-05-02, 06:18 PM
I am deeply ambivilant about Art definitions, any attempt to define something so diverse and subjective is like trying to nail jelly to the ceiling, fun but pointless.
Although, I bet you can't call it art without a smile on your face. I struggle to extend Art to games of any sort, lets face it, if you drag out the definition wide enough... well hell, I'm art.

Scott McCloud's excellent Understanding Comics contains my favorite definition of art: anything that doesn't directly help us to survive and reproduce. Let's take a hypothetical caveman. He hunts--survival. He sees a woman, and runs after her--reproduction. A sabretooth tiger spots him, and the caveman begins to flee--survival. He leads the sabretooth near a cliff, where he grabs a tree branch just in time to let the tiger run off the edge of the cliff--survival.

He stands at the edge of the cliff, thumbs to his temples and fingers extended; he sticks out his tongue and makes lets out a joyful "PBBBTH!" Art.

Charity
2007-05-02, 06:48 PM
Innis Cabal, you could always, you know... stop reading the thread if it upsets you.
Whomever you are addressing with that post is perfectly entitled to whine away to his/her hearts content.

Matthew
2007-05-02, 06:50 PM
Whoah, whoah, Innis, I can understand your position, but bear in mind that constructive criticism and debate are how games are improved. This Thread presents some legitimate concerns about what D&D offers and they are being debated. I find it quite interesting, but then this is the kind of thing I am interested in (being an avid rules tinkerer). If people didn't complain about 2.x then 3.x would have been very different (much to Clericwithnogod's disappointment, I am sure).

Innis Cabal
2007-05-02, 06:55 PM
and do you think the changes from 2nd ed and 3.0 and 3.5 didnt come about through discussion. There is a fine line between complaining and constructive criticism. Sadly tone is hard to convey over the internet, i wasnt speaking in anger, more in annoyance over how many of these threads there are. Ive played the game for a very very long time...and i have seen alot of this. I guess i wrote to harshly. I will delete the above and clarify here. If you find so many things wrong with a system change, you are spending to much money and time on something you do not care for.

Matthew
2007-05-02, 07:03 PM
Erm, I am saying that all change is the result of debate, but, yeah, some criticism can be deconstructive.

I have been playing D&D for a long time also, but, truly, one of the things I love about it is playing with the rules. I look at all of the Rule Books as Source Books, keep what you like, discard what you don't. I play 3.x RAW for published Adventures, Short Campaigns and so on, but for long term campaign play, it's House Rules all the way...

Yahzi
2007-05-02, 11:54 PM
I have never found roleplaying to be affected by mechanics.
I completely agree. All the mechanic does is change the flavor of the story.

Innis Cabal
2007-05-02, 11:57 PM
i agree with you 100% Matthew but from what i have seen on several of these threads, not this one, but house rules are not really accepted becuase it dost mean the game has less disadvantages but in fact more becuase you have to go back and fix the rules yourself. I think that opinon is silly and i think house rules make the game much much better but there is going to be at all times one person that has to not like something

random11
2007-05-03, 01:18 AM
I completely agree. All the mechanic does is change the flavor of the story.

I disagree.
If you go with the RAW, it will be the mechanic you use that will tell you when to role dice and when to rely on story telling.
Almost all mechanisms allow good roleplaying, so most will depend on the players, but the mechanic also has some effect.

Charity
2007-05-03, 04:06 AM
Whether you chuck a die, rely on GM arbitration, or make it up on the spot, to resolve some in game issue, why does that affect how you portray your character?
I genuinely do not comprehend why it is that different shaped dice and different tables to cross reference (or not) will alter the reasoning functions of your cerebral cortex. The only difference the game system can make as far as I can see, to whether folk role-play well or not, is the existing preconceptions about the system, that the players bring to the table.

Yahzi
2007-05-03, 01:15 PM
If you go with the RAW, it will be the mechanic you use that will tell you when to role dice and when to rely on story telling.
But you can role-play any kind of character.

A guy who lives in a world where fighters have 80 hps can be role-played just as believably as a guy who lives in a world where fighters travel faster than the speed of sound.

Human nature does not change based on the mechanic. What choices people make, and how the world looks, do change; but none of this is role-playing.

On the other hand, the mechanic does limit the kinds of roles you can play. For instance, it's hard to be an atheistic scientist in Faerun. So ya, the mechanic does have an effect on the kinds of roleplaying; just not on the quality of it.

Morgan_Scott82
2007-05-03, 01:55 PM
But you can role-play any kind of character.

A guy who lives in a world where fighters have 80 hps can be role-played just as believably as a guy who lives in a world where fighters travel faster than the speed of sound.

Human nature does not change based on the mechanic. What choices people make, and how the world looks, do change; but none of this is role-playing.

On the other hand, the mechanic does limit the kinds of roles you can play. For instance, it's hard to be an atheistic scientist in Faerun. So ya, the mechanic does have an effect on the kinds of roleplaying; just not on the quality of it.
Ah but, I believe the KINDS of roled you can play is an element of the QUALITY of the roleplaying. That is to say if I want to play a certain kind of character, and the mechinics of the system don't accomodate that desire I am faced with a choice to play a different character who's role I am less enthused about, or play a role where my vision of the character and his capabilities don't play out under the rules of the system which could lead to frustration on the part of the player and frustratation gets in the way of good roleplay. Thus having a system that does a good job representing the roles you want to play can lead to better roleplaying on your part.

Matthew
2007-05-03, 10:28 PM
Whether you chuck a die, rely on GM arbitration, or make it up on the spot, to resolve some in game issue, why does that affect how you portray your character?
I genuinely do not comprehend why it is that different shaped dice and different tables to cross reference (or not) will alter the reasoning functions of your cerebral cortex. The only difference the game system can make as far as I can see, to whether folk role-play well or not, is the existing preconceptions about the system, that the players bring to the table.
I dunno, it depends. Mechanics can impose limitations as to what your Character can physically do withing the game world and, in that sense, how you roleplay him.

Yahzi
2007-05-03, 11:34 PM
Ah but, I believe the KINDS of roled you can play is an element of the QUALITY of the roleplaying..
Bah! A True Roleplayer views an insane mechanic as merely part of the challenge. :smallbiggrin::smallbiggrin::smallbiggrin:

Charity
2007-05-04, 03:44 AM
Matthew, the mechanics, do not affect your characters personality (or lack thereof)
They don't affect what he says, nor what he chooses to do, just how you resolve it.
You can elect to put yourself into the role of your character, viewing the world through the filter of his senses and emotions. Making decisions based on his personality and past experience, speaking in his dialect adhering to his moral code. You can do all this in GURPS, you can do all this in D&D, you can do it in tunnels and trolls, you can do it in Toon... The system can't stop you role-playing, it just can't, and by a simple act of extrapolation it can't make you do it either.

Edit - does that sound snotty? I'm not trying to come accross that way, but I can't picture what the system does that can affect role-playing.
I know this is a commonly held belief. Posters whom I respect a great deal hold this view, but I cannot see it.

Matthew
2007-05-04, 07:05 AM
Nah not snotty, I know what your saying, but I think there are limits to how far good roleplaying can take you. If the system is comparatively deadly, for instance, it is going to affect how you choose to Roleplay your Character, or if the system heavily controls the results of social interaction without regard for Roleplaying. Some systems even seek to mechanise Character traits through 'flaws' and 'virtues'. It's in the nature of a codifying system to impose limitations.

So, for instance, if the game has a mechanic called Silver Tongued, it gives Players the impression that their Character must have that Ability before he can be roleplayed that way. It's the same problem as with Spring Attack. Now, obviously, you good play a glib Character without purchasing said Ability, but you can bet that somewhere along the line mechanics and roleplaying are going to contradict one another.

Jayabalard
2007-05-04, 09:58 AM
I disagree. In life luck plays a part and we all have to learn to cope with bad luck. Portraying how someone does that is a big part of playing a role.You can have good luck or bad luck without ever rolling dice, as long as someone else other than you is the one determining the outcomes; rolling dice does not enable, or even enhance any part of "playing a role".

Please understand that I'm not saying that free form gaming is better than rolling dice, or that you can't roleplay while rolling dice, or mechanics can't have an effect on roleplaying...

Mechanics restrict roleplaying more than free-form gaming; they're a trade off, restricting how you can play your roll for the sake of making the game simpler, more manageable, and more balanced. Even the best mechanics stifle roleplaying to a certain extent.

Back to the point: While D&D has many advantages, "mechanics that enhance and encourage roleplaying in the fantasy genre" isn't one of them; it works for a fairly small spectrum of characters, namely ones that fit into a superheroic optimized fantasy world, but the mechanics get in the way for other many styles of roleplaying.

Gamebird
2007-05-04, 10:31 AM
Take a normal human character. In a simulationist world/mechanics closely modelled off reality, falling from a great height is very dangerous, as is getting shot with a gun or stabbed with knife or walking into a burning building.

In a rules-heavy world/mechanics only somewhat modelled off reality (like, say, D&D), relatively lots of people and creatures can survive falling from great heights and even a normal person can expect to survive the worst stabbing with a knife (1d3 damage +1d3 for critical hit, +2 STR adj x2 for crit, all maxed = 10 damage. Even a 2 hp spoozer commoner will survive this injury with NO negative repercussions, no scar, no maiming, no stat change, if someone stops his bleeding).

Which world your character is in greatly affects your view of violence, fear or lack thereof of heights and understanding of cause and effect. How much you role play isn't changed, but what sort of character you role play and what attitudes that character has are different. Things I would take for given in a simulationist world ("Don't stick your hand in the fire, it's hot!") are silly in a D&D world ("Fire only does a d6 damage. At worst it does 10% of my 7th level Fighter's hit points. I reach into the fire and rearrange the coals.") It's hard to role play realistic reactions to hazards like fire, heights or drowning when the rules refuse to back you up.

It doesn't mean you can't role play. It just makes it more difficult to relate to the character and get into the role.

Charity
2007-05-04, 11:23 AM
Nah not snotty, I know what your saying, but I think there are limits to how far good roleplaying can take you. If the system is comparatively deadly, for instance, it is going to affect how you choose to Roleplay your Character, or if the system heavily controls the results of social interaction without regard for Roleplaying. Some systems even seek to mechanise Character traits through 'flaws' and 'virtues'. It's in the nature of a codifying system to impose limitations.

So, for instance, if the game has a mechanic called Silver Tongued, it gives Players the impression that their Character must have that Ability before he can be roleplayed that way. It's the same problem as with Spring Attack. Now, obviously, you good play a glib Character without purchasing said Ability, but you can bet that somewhere along the line mechanics and roleplaying are going to contradict one another.

A deadly game may make the incidence of craven personality types more frequent, I guess. I find it's not the case though, folk take just as many risks with their Rolemaster characters as they do with their D&D one's... they just have to roll up a load more of the Rolemaster ones.

The greatest restriction on the personality type of your character in my opinion, is the genre of the game, this will place a burden on your role-playing. A particularly tight genre game like Paranoia can restrict role-play in my experiance, though it is not really designed with much more than debate in mind in fairness, and isn't a good example really.

As far as the Silver tongued thing goes,well there has been much debate of late that questions whether 'fluff' needs to follow 'crunch'.... I'm still not sure where I fall on that spectrum. I do see where you are comming from on this, though if you plan to play a glib character, why wouldn't you purchase Silver tongued? Although if you did not, it simply means you will be mechanically inferior when trying to gain benifit from it, even the very best bullspooners have off days.
If you are buying personality traits as part of a point buy system, well yes that will hold you to a range of possible personalities should you purchase them, but I've never seen a system where it's compulsory on reflection I guess D&D's alignment is supposedly compulsory.
On point buy, with personality traits, you will have to adhere to the personality traits you chose on creation, but that choice is yours, and you needn't chose any extremes should you not wish to play one. So upon creation of the character you still have the same choice you would anywhere else.

nagora
2007-05-04, 11:40 AM
You can have good luck or bad luck without ever rolling dice, as long as someone else other than you is the one determining the outcomes; rolling dice does not enable, or even enhance any part of "playing a role".

If someone else is deciding then it's not luck and its not realistic and it therefore undermines any serious attempt at role-playing. It can only enhance the director's control of the actors or, worse, the actors' control of each other and the DM. The end result is certainly (and usually very bad) story-telling, but it's not a game nor is it true role-playing where the player has ownership of the character.

Dice or other true random factors enhance role-playing if used in moderation. I think over the years this has been proven over and over again, and ultimately is what made D&D stand out from, for example, improvisational theater - the most boring art form known to Man - or simple "let's pretend" games that we all played as young children.

Free-form is fun for those involved, I'm sure, but I'd personally rather have something with a bit more meaning and depth to it. Fantasy characters of the sort D&D is supposed to involve overcome great odds, or die trying, and that requires fair and real odds with consequences when things go wrong. Dice are the best mechanism for achieving this yet devised.

nagora
2007-05-04, 11:47 AM
So, for instance, if the game has a mechanic called Silver Tongued, it gives Players the impression that their Character must have that Ability before he can be roleplayed that way. It's the same problem as with Spring Attack. Now, obviously, you good play a glib Character without purchasing said Ability, but you can bet that somewhere along the line mechanics and roleplaying are going to contradict one another.

I think that's exactly where post-1stEd AD&D went wrong. There are too many skills and too many feats which step on the role-player's toes. It's fair enough to have a combat system and a magic-system since we don't have an easy way to simulate those around a kitchen table, but things like Silver Tounged should be much subtler and looser, with perhaps an appeal to the character's CHA score or something. Social interaction really has no place being in the rule book, IMHO.

Morgan_Scott82
2007-05-04, 12:11 PM
I think that's exactly where post-1stEd AD&D went wrong. There are too many skills and too many feats which step on the role-player's toes. It's fair enough to have a combat system and a magic-system since we don't have an easy way to simulate those around a kitchen table, but things like Silver Tounged should be much subtler and looser, with perhaps an appeal to the character's CHA score or something. Social interaction really has no place being in the rule book, IMHO.

I disagree whole heartedly here. Without a set of mechanics to resolve non-combat situations a system would severely reduce the kinds of roles available to someone to play, if they wanted to be effective in that chosen role. For example, if the outcome of the tense negotiations with the goblin warlord to pursaude him not to raze the village to the ground in exchange for a sum of gold comes down to how well the player plays the role of the negotiator rather than some codified mechanic then you're no longer testing the character but the player.

Some people are more outgoing then others, some people have the gift of gab and a silver tongue, some people don't. What if someone who was shy, and bookish wanted to play the slick, sly, urbane, quick thinking netogotiator? Without a mechanic to resolve the negotiation her character will never be as successful as the character of a more glib player. Do you think it appropriate that such a system would penalize players ambitious enough to take on a role totally unlike themselves?

When the system begins to test the player rather than the character it is, to me, a serious breech of one of the biggest appeals of roleplaying games: the ability to step outside oneself and play a role totally unlike who you really are.

nagora
2007-05-04, 12:20 PM
I disagree whole heartedly here. Without a set of mechanics to resolve non-combat situations a system would severely reduce the kinds of roles available to someone to play, if they wanted to be effective in that chosen role. For example, if the outcome of the tense negotiations with the goblin warlord to pursaude him not to raze the village to the ground in exchange for a sum of gold comes down to how well the player plays the role of the negotiator rather than some codified mechanic then you're no longer testing the character but the player.

Some people are more outgoing then others, some people have the gift of gab and a silver tongue, some people don't. What if someone who was shy, and bookish wanted to play the slick, sly, urbane, quick thinking netogotiator? Without a mechanic to resolve the negotiation her character will never be as successful as the character of a more glib player. Do you think it appropriate that a system penalize players ambitious enough to take on a role totally unlike themselves?

When the system begins to test the player rather than the character it is, to me, a serious breech of one of the biggest appeals of roleplaying games: the ability to step outside oneself and play a role totally unlike who you really are.

I agree that is a danger but one that I think is MORE in the realm of what the DM's role is than the game system's. But not entirely. The game should support a player who wants a character who is smarter/dumber/gliber etc but I don't think it should dictate to them in the same level of detail that the combat system does.

Charity
2007-05-04, 12:43 PM
Take a normal human character. In a simulationist world/mechanics closely modelled off reality, falling from a great height is very dangerous, as is getting shot with a gun or stabbed with knife or walking into a burning building.

In a rules-heavy world/mechanics only somewhat modelled off reality (like, say, D&D), relatively lots of people and creatures can survive falling from great heights and even a normal person can expect to survive the worst stabbing with a knife (1d3 damage +1d3 for critical hit, +2 STR adj x2 for crit, all maxed = 10 damage. Even a 2 hp spoozer commoner will survive this injury with NO negative repercussions, no scar, no maiming, no stat change, if someone stops his bleeding).

Which world your character is in greatly affects your view of violence, fear or lack thereof of heights and understanding of cause and effect. How much you role play isn't changed, but what sort of character you role play and what attitudes that character has are different. Things I would take for given in a simulationist world ("Don't stick your hand in the fire, it's hot!") are silly in a D&D world ("Fire only does a d6 damage. At worst it does 10% of my 7th level Fighter's hit points. I reach into the fire and rearrange the coals.") It's hard to role play realistic reactions to hazards like fire, heights or drowning when the rules refuse to back you up.

Hmm,
Ok D&D reflects it's genre in it's structure. High fantasy requires high level characters to be able to get roasted by a Dragons breath, and survive.
In this, form is following function, there are scaling issues, but D&D is designed as highly survivable as games go.
and as you say yourself-

It doesn't mean you can't role play. It just makes it more difficult to relate to the character and get into the role.
In fairness, this is also the very sort of ground where the house rules get broken out, to smooth over each of our WSODG's (wilful suspension of disbelief gap)
I figure this is more of a genre issue when it's pared down to it's bare bones.

Jayabalard
2007-05-04, 03:27 PM
If someone else is deciding then it's not luck and its not realistic and it therefore undermines any serious attempt at role-playing. hmm, well, then we'll have to agree to disagree. As long as you don't choose it, it's luck... it doesn't matter what the mechanism for resolving it, you can use whatever you want (Referee, roshambo, dice... whatever) to decide outcomes and produce the same effect.

Dice do not inherently add any meaning and depth... as a matter of fact, they often have the opposite effect...


High fantasy requires high level characters to be able to get roasted by a Dragons breath, and survive.Nope... superheroes in a fantasy world require that ability, but regular high fantasy does not require characters that can stand in a dragon's cone of fire and "take it" ... then pick up the fight next turn.

It does require that there be ways to defeat the dragon, but not necessarily by being able to stand there in the fire and ignore the fire breath other than as an opportunity to roast marshmallows; often the heros will have spells and special armor that protect them, or they take advantage of terrain and cover, or they simply use distractions to make sure that it doesn't actually hit anyone... or they die a heroic death sacrificing themselves as a distraction.

Gamebird
2007-05-04, 03:51 PM
For example, if the outcome of the tense negotiations with the goblin warlord to pursaude him not to raze the village to the ground in exchange for a sum of gold comes down to how well the player plays the role of the negotiator rather than some codified mechanic then you're no longer testing the character but the player.

<sarcasm> and the game is so much more enjoyable when I roll a die, add some modifiers and the DM says, "Okay, you convinced him." </sarcasm>

I get your point - really, I do. Having the social stuff determined by dice rolls instead of getting to actually talk in character and say things, isn't all that much fun. It's like sitting down to play D&D, but instead of the DM describing an encounter and the players making choices about how to respond, we all sit around rolling our dice and reporting the results, with an occasional exclamation of "20!" I've done that and it's kind of fun, but it gets boring fast.

Just like resolving social stuff with dice rolls. It gets boring really fast.


Some people are more outgoing then others, some people have the gift of gab and a silver tongue, some people don't. What if someone who was shy, and bookish wanted to play the slick, sly, urbane, quick thinking netogotiator?

What do you do when someone wants to have their fighter do extremely subpar combat manuevers? Or when the wizard persistently memorizes less-than-useful spells? I've played with the mentally handicapped and there is a point at which you have to let them play their character, even to the point of detriment. You can advise, you can suggest alternatives, you can remind them of the rules and the likely outcomes of their action. But as long as you're letting THEM play their character rather than play the character for them, you've got to give them the freedom to do something stupid and/or unwise.

Someone who is socially less-able would fall into the same category. Regardless that their character should be smarter (or slicker) than the player is, there is a point at which you have to let them make choices and suffer (or enjoy) the consequences.


Do you think it appropriate that such a system would penalize players ambitious enough to take on a role totally unlike themselves?

Yes, I think I do. Just like the system rewards people who have played a lot and learned the rules forward and backwards.


When the system begins to test the player rather than the character it is, to me, a serious breech of one of the biggest appeals of roleplaying games: the ability to step outside oneself and play a role totally unlike who you really are.

All systems test the player. That's why the game is enjoyable and interesting. I can't imagine a game that wouldn't test the player, so maybe you and I aren't on the same page here. If we go back to make-believe games of cops and robbers, then the kid with the most dominant personality or charisma will be directing the others and having the most influence over whether someone was shot or missed. If we go to a straight strategy game like chess, then the pieces being moved have nothing to do with it - it's a pure test of the player's knowledge and understanding of the rules.

EvilElitest
2007-05-04, 08:41 PM
I consider this part of the problem.
The highr level you are, the things that were deadly for you are no longer a threat and you have to scale your enemy to the same speed.
Take random encounters as an example, a level 1 group will face kobolds, a level 2 will face hobgoblins and on level 8 suddenly the same forest will be filled with chimeras and uber-goblins with spellcasting abilities.

If I compare this to a more realistic system like Gurps, as you "level up" there, your chances to evade and hit are greatly improved, but sbeing orrounded by low level goblins is still a threat because you won't be able to stand more then 2-3 hits from a sword.

Because you are so much more powerful, it no longer gets you expience, they can still be a threat, check out Tucker's Kolbalds
from,
EE

Matthew
2007-05-04, 09:52 PM
I think that's exactly where post-1stEd AD&D went wrong. There are too many skills and too many feats which step on the role-player's toes. It's fair enough to have a combat system and a magic-system since we don't have an easy way to simulate those around a kitchen table, but things like Silver Tounged should be much subtler and looser, with perhaps an appeal to the character's CHA score or something. Social interaction really has no place being in the rule book, IMHO.
It's a two way street, as Morgan and Gamebird indicate. If you want to play someone who is very articulate and socially adept, but you yourself are not and incapable of portraying such a Character, then mechanics become necessary to support that play experience. As with most things in RPGs, it's best left as a blend of mechanics and roleplaying with the emphasis on whichever aspect most suits the occasion.

Stephen_E
2007-05-04, 11:00 PM
Matthew, the mechanics, do not affect your characters personality (or lack thereof)
They don't affect what he says, nor what he chooses to do, just how you resolve it.
You can elect to put yourself into the role of your character, viewing the world through the filter of his senses and emotions. Making decisions based on his personality and past experience, speaking in his dialect adhering to his moral code. You can do all this in GURPS, you can do all this in D&D, you can do it in tunnels and trolls, you can do it in Toon... The system can't stop you role-playing, it just can't, and by a simple act of extrapolation it can't make you do it either.

Edit - does that sound snotty? I'm not trying to come accross that way, but I can't picture what the system does that can affect role-playing.
I know this is a commonly held belief. Posters whom I respect a great deal hold this view, but I cannot see it.

I want to play a Wolf. Not a human who chases women, not a man who thinks he's a wolf, a honest to goodness Wolf that sees the world through a mix of sight and scent, beleives in the pack, runs on 4 legs, scratchs for fleas.
Most systems simply don't have the mechanics for it, so yes, the mechanics do impact my roleplaying. And don't tell me I can play a human with the personality of a Wolf, because that's not a Wolf, that's a crazy human.

Stephen

belboz
2007-05-05, 01:02 AM
About social mechanics being resolved with dice rolls and fun:

This post (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2010137&postcount=62) struck me as the most amazing example of making real use of social skill die rolls while still having fun.

The basic idea is like combat: The player determines strategy; with a lousy strategy you're at a serious disadvantage, and with a good one you're at a serious advantage. But the character's skills determine, within a range, how well a particular gambit works--just as they do in combat.

nagora
2007-05-05, 04:08 AM
hmm, well, then we'll have to agree to disagree. As long as you don't choose it, it's luck... it doesn't matter what the mechanism for resolving it, you can use whatever you want (Referee, roshambo, dice... whatever) to decide outcomes and produce the same effect.


Once a human is making the decision then they are making it for a reason and the effect is totally different from luck, indeed the opposite of luck - it's fate in the form of fiat. We're back to the GM controlling the PCs again. If the GM has an idea for a story s/he should write it down and publish it instead of pretending it's an RPG scenario.

Charity
2007-05-05, 05:41 AM
I want to play a Wolf. Not a human who chases women, not a man who thinks he's a wolf, a honest to goodness Wolf that sees the world through a mix of sight and scent, beleives in the pack, runs on 4 legs, scratchs for fleas.
Most systems simply don't have the mechanics for it, so yes, the mechanics do impact my roleplaying. And don't tell me I can play a human with the personality of a Wolf, because that's not a Wolf, that's a crazy human.

Stephen

I disagree, there's the mechanics for it in D&D, (in fact most systems could accomidate you) have fun playing that 2 intelligence though, just take the stats for a wolf, and off you go, you might find 'over the counter' adventures might not have a lot in there for a wolf PC, and I guess you would have to restrict the classes you could take, but heck if someone can play a half dragon kobold ghost, why not a wolf?
Also you know that at the extreme end you can break most stuff, the biggest problem with being a wolf would most likely be the rest of the party not really wanting to roleplay animals, rather than a system not being able to cope with a canine PC.

Pauwel
2007-05-05, 10:47 AM
Because you are so much more powerful, it no longer gets you expience, they can still be a threat, check out Tucker's Kolbalds
from,
EE

Totally irrelevant. The point is that all encounters inexplicably get harder as the characters increase in levels, and whether or not they get harder because of the creatures themselves or because of outside circumstances doesn't matter.


Generally, the only major things I dislike about D&D are:

1: Hit points. I know it's supposed to represent luck/ability to dodge and all that (which is why I use Vitality and Wound Points in the few D&D games I do DM), but it's just too... rigid. That 10th level fighter just keeps dodging and dodging until one blow takes him out completely, and that doesn't mimic the fantasy genre combat very well. Warriors can occasionally take blows that might knock them down, stun them momentarily and so on without actually putting them down into that "0 hp and below" range.
For that part, the VP/WP works decently except for the I-can-keep-dodging-but-once-I'm-hit-I'm-taken-out-instantly syndrome. If you have half your maximum vitality points it doesn't make a mechanical difference, and once it finally does (when you're down to your wound points) most attacks would just knock you out instantly. At, say, 1st to 3rd level it'll take about two hits. I just don't think it emulates fantasy combat well enough.
(For a system that I think does emulate fantasy combat well enough, check out Mutants and Masterminds' Toughness save. Combined with hero points it allows lucky hits to have a real effect on characters while still alowing their hero-ness to save them from being knocked out from a peasant hitting them with a frying pan.)

2: Classes. Too restrictive and a bit silly. One thing that irks me in particular is that not only does EVERYONE get base attack boni, they also apply to all attacks you make. You cannot have an expert mle fighter who isn't half as good with bows, for example. Old, venerable wizards in high levels will also be able to hit, say, an athletic youngster with almost 100% accuracy.
Besides, I find that when the system needs a class for every concept, the system itself is ineffective. When I have to buy splatbooks everytime I have an interesting/different idea (if I for example wanted to play a psion when I didn't have the XPH), it means that the original system can't accomodate for it. I mean, I could play a sorcerer and call it a psion, sure, but what if I really hated the sorcerer's casting system? Or the magic system itself, for that matter? What if I wanted to do things a bit different (so that I could do more things with my inherent magic than a ridiculously specific and limited list of tricks, for instance)?
"House rule it," you might say. But house-ruling in a balanced manner takes time, and besides that the need for a house-rule must essentially, in my opinion, mean that the system as it was didn't work. Because, to put a twist a common analogy: If you have to fix it, it must be broken.

3: Too rules-heavy. Totally my opinion. I just don't find a need for its heavy-handedness, but others will find it more the helpful nonetheless.

Justin_Bacon
2007-05-05, 12:21 PM
Mechanics restrict roleplaying more than free-form gaming; they're a trade off, restricting how you can play your roll for the sake of making the game simpler, more manageable, and more balanced. Even the best mechanics stifle roleplaying to a certain extent.

No. The best mechanics enhance roleplaying. Any professionally trained improv actor can tell you that.


Things I would take for given in a simulationist world ("Don't stick your hand in the fire, it's hot!") are silly in a D&D world ("Fire only does a d6 damage. At worst it does 10% of my 7th level Fighter's hit points. I reach into the fire and rearrange the coals.") It's hard to role play realistic reactions to hazards like fire, heights or drowning when the rules refuse to back you up.

That 7th level character has superhuman reflexes (which is what those hit points represent). He can reach into a fire and rearrange the coals because he's fast enough to do it without significantly burning himself.

That's not something a person in the real world can do (at least, not as well as a 7th level D&D fighter can; there are people who juggle hot coals) -- but a 7th level D&D fighter isn't a normal person in the real world.


It doesn't mean you can't role play. It just makes it more difficult to relate to the character and get into the role.

The challenge of playing someone unlike yourself can be part of the fun.

Justin Alexander
http://www.thealexandrian.net

Stephen_E
2007-05-05, 05:21 PM
I disagree, there's the mechanics for it in D&D, (in fact most systems could accomidate you) have fun playing that 2 intelligence though, just take the stats for a wolf, and off you go, you might find 'over the counter' adventures might not have a lot in there for a wolf PC, and I guess you would have to restrict the classes you could take, but heck if someone can play a half dragon kobold ghost, why not a wolf?
Also you know that at the extreme end you can break most stuff, the biggest problem with being a wolf would most likely be the rest of the party not really wanting to roleplay animals, rather than a system not being able to cope with a canine PC.

Yes DnD has mechanics for it, but your point was that mechanics are irrelevant to roleplaying. My point is that they are.

I was actually thinking of an awakened Wolf, or Dire Wolf, but unawakend would be fine. As for Int, while the MM says animal Ints don't go beyond 2, the DMG hints at 4, and by the description of Int in PHB, animal easily get to 3+ (the ability to learn a limited vocabulary in one language). There is also no requirement for the other PC's to be animals. Wolves have been known to include humans in their "pack" definition. The only classes that wouldn't be available are the Int based caster classes.

But all this makes the point that mechanics can affect how you roleplay.
(The biggest problem in DnD is finding DM's who won't go "that's to bizzare", but I have the same problem wanting to play Pixies and Minotaurs).

Stephen

Morgan_Scott82
2007-05-05, 10:09 PM
<sarcasm> and the game is so much more enjoyable when I roll a die, add some modifiers and the DM says, "Okay, you convinced him." </sarcasm>

I get your point - really, I do. Having the social stuff determined by dice rolls instead of getting to actually talk in character and say things, isn't all that much fun. It's like sitting down to play D&D, but instead of the DM describing an encounter and the players making choices about how to respond, we all sit around rolling our dice and reporting the results, with an occasional exclamation of "20!" I've done that and it's kind of fun, but it gets boring fast.

Just like resolving social stuff with dice rolls. It gets boring really fast.

In my games at least, all the players still roleplay the interaction, its just that the outcome is determined by the roll of the die rather than the words or intonation of the player, if a player says I make a diplomacy check, I expect him to play it out, I've even go so far as to give a +2 circumstance bonus for player actions. However I'm not comfortable ruling entirely on the players actions rather than his characters.


What do you do when someone wants to have their fighter do extremely subpar combat manuevers? Or when the wizard persistently memorizes less-than-useful spells? I've played with the mentally handicapped and there is a point at which you have to let them play their character, even to the point of detriment. You can advise, you can suggest alternatives, you can remind them of the rules and the likely outcomes of their action. But as long as you're letting THEM play their character rather than play the character for them, you've got to give them the freedom to do something stupid and/or unwise.

If a player wants to do something sub-optimal, I let them, the difference is that this isn't the choice of what do do, but how to resolve it. When the fighter tells me he wants to attack someone I don't ask him how much he can bench press, I use the mechanics of the system to resolve his chosen action. Using the same methodology for social interactions is only fair. If the scrawny 110 pound nerd can play the hulking burly 230 lb barbarian and be mechically effective, then so should the shy, tongue tied, stammering man be able to the glib outgoing character and also be mechanically effective.


Someone who is socially less-able would fall into the same category. Regardless that their character should be smarter (or slicker) than the player is, there is a point at which you have to let them make choices and suffer (or enjoy) the consequences.

Once agian the problem here isn't the choice of action but the way its resolved that poses the problem.

Jayabalard
2007-05-05, 11:24 PM
Once a human is making the decision then they are making it for a reason and the effect is totally different from luck, indeed the opposite of luck - it's fate in the form of fiat. We're back to the GM controlling the PCs again. If the GM has an idea for a story s/he should write it down and publish it instead of pretending it's an RPG scenario.Even if you roll dice, the GM still controls the story.

The mechanics of resolving that outcome makes no difference in the roleplaying of those outcomes; from the character's position, there's nothing different. You act out your role, reacting to situations that the referee presents (by fiat, or by rolling dice, doesn't matter).


No. The best mechanics enhance roleplaying. Any professionally trained improv actor can tell you that.Nope... the best game mechanics that exist still restrict roleplaying. They replace things that would otherwise be controlled strictly by roleplaying with things that are controlled by rules instead.


I want to play a Wolf. Not a human who chases women, not a man who thinks he's a wolf, a honest to goodness Wolf that sees the world through a mix of sight and scent, beleives in the pack, runs on 4 legs, scratchs for fleas.
Most systems simply don't have the mechanics for it, so yes, the mechanics do impact my roleplaying. And don't tell me I can play a human with the personality of a Wolf, because that's not a Wolf, that's a crazy human.

StephenJust curious, what RPG systems don't have rules that can allow that?

I mean, in D20 wolves are statted out, so the mechanical side of it is taken care of, all that's left is the actual roleplaying part (ie, no mechanics); in GURPS you have bunnies and burrows, so there are explicit rules for that sort of character creation, along with ideas on how to run that sort of campaign... They all have rules that restrict your Roleplaying, but that's a given.

nagora
2007-05-06, 11:16 AM
Even if you roll dice, the GM still controls the story.

It is not the GM's place to control the story, only the plot. If the GM controls the story then it's not role-playing.


The mechanics of resolving that outcome makes no difference in the roleplaying of those outcomes; from the character's position, there's nothing different.

You act out your role, reacting to situations that the referee presents (by fiat, or by rolling dice, doesn't matter).

There is a vital difference between outcomes being totally decided by the GM or a neutral die, from the point of view of the players. Additionally, from the characters' point of view there is very likely to be a difference in how events unfold, even if they are unable to perceive it (what with them not being real and all).


Nope... the best game mechanics that exist still restrict roleplaying. They replace things that would otherwise be controlled strictly by roleplaying with things that are controlled by rules instead.

I agree that the best game mechanics that exist still restrict roleplaying - that's one thing that makes them good.

Together with your other comments it seems to imply that you do not believe that there are any rules in real life, or perhaps only not in stories. There are rules; there are practical realities. Any system which does not at least attempt to model them with rules (or guidelines) which stand above and apart from the GM is not going to produce a role-playing game of any sort. Wish-fulfilling, masturbatory, indulgent twaddle is the best you can hope for without mechanics of some sort, OR, straight-forward story telling with "players" as actors locked into a pre-determined path.

Overcoming restrictions is both realistic and the cornerstone of drama. Any role-playing which does not place restrictions on the characters is not only unrealistic but doomed to dullness.

Charity
2007-05-06, 01:26 PM
Yes DnD has mechanics for it, but your point was that mechanics are irrelevant to roleplaying. My point is that they are.
Why so? You can play a fully realised wolf in more or less any RPG I know, so how do their varied mechanics affect your ability to roleplay an animal?


I was actually thinking of an awakened Wolf, or Dire Wolf, but unawakend would be fine. As for Int, while the MM says animal Ints don't go beyond 2, the DMG hints at 4, and by the description of Int in PHB, animal easily get to 3+ (the ability to learn a limited vocabulary in one language). There is also no requirement for the other PC's to be animals. Wolves have been known to include humans in their "pack" definition. The only classes that wouldn't be available are the Int based caster classes.
OK it will still be dull as hell to play an instinct driven 3 or 4 intelligence creature after a short while. This however is a character choice that restricts your roleplaying options, not the mechanics of any particular game affecting your ability to realise the animal.


But all this makes the point that mechanics can affect how you roleplay.
(The biggest problem in DnD is finding DM's who won't go "that's to bizzare", but I have the same problem wanting to play Pixies and Minotaurs).

I don't see how a choice of character shows us how the mechanics of D&D or indeed any other RPG have affected your ability to roleplay. As for trouble finding a decent DM, well friend thats where most of us find ourselves from time to time, my advice if you find a good one ... marry them.

Gamebird
2007-05-10, 11:20 AM
That 7th level character has superhuman reflexes (which is what those hit points represent). He can reach into a fire and rearrange the coals because he's fast enough to do it without significantly burning himself.

That's not something a person in the real world can do (at least, not as well as a 7th level D&D fighter can; there are people who juggle hot coals) -- but a 7th level D&D fighter isn't a normal person in the real world.

That's one of my biggest problems with D&D. I can play a character who becomes less and less enjoyable as she levels up, because she morphs into a superheroes mutant. Or I can "scale my expectations" and settle for only advancing my skills 2 to 4 times over the course of a one to two year campaign. I'm a really patient person, but leveling up that slowly would be annoying.


Morgan_Scott82:
I run social interaction in my games very similarly to yours, but usually without the dice rolls (or with fewer). It's generally not a problem of the uncharismatic player being unable to get across what they want to happen, but the player wanting something to happen that's rude, humiliating, degrading or downright stupid. That's what makes the player uncharismatic. Acting and theatre/movie/TV has lots of cases where someone with a speech impediment or introspective/shy/timid personality still has a lot of charisma and is extremely likeable. Really uncharismatic people are unlikeable because they do, and want to do, things that are unlikeable.

Here's a combat analogy: I had a guy playing a paladin, with a magical longsword. The player insisted on using his longbow in melee combat, while threatened. He had no feats or other abilities related to the longbow and he was shooting the guy he was fighting with. I talked to him about the risk of AoOs, that it wasn't an inconvenience for his character to draw his sword and hit with it, etc. He kept at it. He was defeated.

Should I have ignored his poor strategy and pretended his character was fighting in a more optimal manner? I think not.

The sort of problems I've seen in games are like these:

1. Player with high CHR bard goes to watch commander and asks for permission to cast spells with his performance. Permission is granted. Player then goes on to how he will use a spell to duplicate a non-allowed use of the spell. He uses a different name for the spell ("Moving Images" instead of "Silent Image") and doesn't explain the different spell name when asked. Permission is revoked. Player is angry and argues the case. The watch-commander puts him in a cell for a few hours and then lets him out.

2. Player with rogue calls NPC named Urien, "Urine". Does this repeatedly, even after correction. Player claims it is a personal tick. DM changes the NPC's name. Player now refers to him as "that NPC who was named Urine before". DM has the NPC leave in a huff about the name-calling.

3. Same player later calls an important member of the thieve's guild, who was named Colin, "Colon". He does it again after correction, at which point the DM had the thief make a threat against the PC's life and they never interacted again.

4. A mentally handicapped player wants to sell one of his items. He is told the going price for the item is 40 gp. He says that's fine, he'll take 30 for it. The DM tells him he can sell it for 40. The player insists he only needs 30 right now and that's all he takes. Later in the same game, the PC runs out of money. The player says his character goes back to the person who bought his item and asks for the other 10 gp.

5. Here's a classic I've seen repeated time and again: Player takes a high CHR character and then betrays the party/an important NPC/his mentor/whoever and gets caught at it. Then the player claims that due to his high CHR, no one would really be that angry about it, or at least he should get a roll to avert the blame, convince them someone else did it, or to overlook it "this one time".

Stuff like that. Stuff where the high CHR character has clearly made poor decisions and thinks that they should be able to skate (or greatly ameliorate) on the consequences of their choice, because their character has a high CHR. The current social rules largely allow that too. If I choose to fight with a dagger instead of a two handed sword, I don't get to do 2d6 damage with my dagger. If I choose to do stupid crap socially, I shouldn't get to ignore the social repercussions either.

Roderick_BR
2007-05-10, 11:55 AM
That's one of my biggest problems with D&D. I can play a character who becomes less and less enjoyable as she levels up, because she morphs into a superheroes mutant. (...)

That's not unlike playing Gurps Supers with 300+ points. (Again, using Gurps as an example), or allowing players to play a group of ancient vampires. It's a matter of taste if you like high powered games or not.

A 1st level adventuring group is a bit stronger than your average commoner.
A 20th level adventuring group are legendary heroes that take down armies by themselves and kill dragons. As it was said, it's not a "problem". The game was MADE to be like that.

I did think once about a set of rules for "normal characters" with added class levels abilities, something like the Final Fantasy Tactics games. You have a "character level" that has your normal stats (skills, etc), and the class levels, that you can level up only by special adventures, and that gives you the usual stuff (Attack bonus, spells, Hit Points using the vitality rules). Never worked much on it, though.

Gamebird
2007-05-10, 01:23 PM
That's not unlike playing Gurps Supers with 300+ points. (Again, using Gurps as an example), or allowing players to play a group of ancient vampires. It's a matter of taste if you like high powered games or not.

A 1st level adventuring group is a bit stronger than your average commoner.
A 20th level adventuring group are legendary heroes that take down armies by themselves and kill dragons. As it was said, it's not a "problem". The game was MADE to be like that.

I know. If I want to play Superheroes or Vampire, I will. And I've enjoyed playing Vampire a great deal, both as a powerful character and as a relatively weak one (still realms tougher than humans). It's annoying though that if I want to play D&D in the scale I want to play D&D in, I can only level up a few times before the character is the equal of Einstein, Peter the Great, Muhammid Ali, Gandhi or Jeremiah Johnson. After three or four level ups, at 4th or 5th level, my character is (according to Justin/Alexandian) the equal of history's greatest.

I'd rather level up 10 or 20 times before being considered not only the best in the world, but the best in recorded history, EVER. I don't want to have to scale my expectations so I expect my character to be inhuman and beyond comprehension when she hits 6th level. I'd rather have the game scaled so I reach "epic" (as in the sort of person that epic tales are told of, ie, the best in recorded history, EVER), when I hit 20th level instead of 6th. Calling 21st level and beyond "Epic" is stupid in the current system. It should be called "Divine" instead, with "Epic" kicking in at 6th and "Legendary" at 11th (as noted in the spell Legend Lore, to mean that the character is so powerful that no one believes your exploits are real because they're so far-fetched). I don't know what the system should call 16th level - "Ludicrous" or something like it.

Instead of me scaling my expectations, I'd rather have a game scaled to mine.